Bill Hoke came to Seattle via agencies in New York, Detroit and
Los Angeles and has been a broadcast writer-producer, creative director,
advertising agency owner, marketing consultant , father of four, avid
hiker and climber and now semi-retired, lives in Kitsap County.
I came to Seattle on Halloween Day, 1969, and eight months later I was fleeing in front of a house foreclosure and looking for a light switch. I was not the last one out of Seattle, but I was among the twenty-five percent percent of the advertising people in the U.S. to lose their jobs. It was 1970 and while the economy was looking for a drain to go down, Boeing was waiting for engines for a tarmac of Boeing 747’s parked with big concrete weights, hanging where engines were supposed to be.
And I was the new copy supervisor for the introduction of the Boeing 747, fresh from the east, the first person from N.W. Ayer and Son to join the newly acquired F.E. Baker Agency in Seattle. Within months of my arrival to a big house in Mercer Island Estates and a small office with a window looking out on the world according to Second and Union, I promptly enrolled in the Mountaineer’s Basic Climbing Course and while things got steadily worse with Boeing, with N.W. Ayer-F.E. Baker, I found places in the mountains every weekend that made up for everything.
While my wife organized the new house and found schools and playmates for our two small children, I went to work, often on a bus, from Island Center Way and into Seattle, getting a daily mountain reminder from Mt. Rainier and beyond. We loved everything about living in the Pacific northwest and while many friends from ‘back east’ warned me that my life in real advertising was now over, the love affair with this lifestyle has never wavered. I grew up in the Detroit area, so moving anyplace else would have been for the better; I felt like I was in heaven here, Woodward Avenue and Madison Avenue notwithstanding. I had worked on Pontiac, Cadillac, produced the first radio advertising for GM Corporate and spent enough time working in New York City to realize it was on the wrong coast. Or I was. Being a Mad Man was plenty good for the ego but I sensed there was more to life than writing advertising.
When I first heard that Ayer was buying an agency in Seattle, I called from my office in Detroit to ask my boss in the New York office to put me on the list. He reported back I was number seven on the list and over the months he would tell me, “You’re number five on the Seattle list”, and then it was number three and then I was second, behind the senior Boeing copywriter in Philadelphia. His wife refused to give up her medical practice to ‘move to the end of the earth’ and ended up where I wanted to be.
Ayer-Baker as it came to be known, was 45 strong, in the Joseph Vance Building. The big accounts were Boeing (Fred Baker had acquired the Boeing recruiting advertising years before, and Ayer, based in Philadelphia had the Boeing Commercial Airplane account. The entire account was now centered in Seattle and old timers at F.E. Baker were not at all interested in any ideas, or resources, the long-haired creative freak from back east might bring. The agency also had the Cedar and Siding Shake Bureau, Westours, one of the first major Alaska tour companies, Seattle Trust and Savings Bank, Heidelberg Beer, Crescent Spices.
The new guy from back east shows up with near shoulder-length hair, a polka dotted tie, an obvious inability or unwillingness to sit still in meetings and anxious to begin writing the introductory advertising for the 747. Dennis Ochsner had just been hired from San Francisco to work with me as art director on the Boeing account. Dennis had a zany streak and was every bit as impatient with the process as I was.
I knew we were bound to be brothers when the first time Les Meyers, the creative director, handed Dennis a ‘tissue rough’ – a sketch Les made of how the next Boeing advertisement was to look, Dennis wrapped it up into a ball and put it back into Les’s hands.
Dennis did not come here from San Francisco to be a wrist for anyone. We get into more trouble when we resist the client’s idea to call one of his new bank services the “Master Builder’ and I try to be gentle, citing Ibsen and even Hitler. Dennis and I win an initial victory and our proposed campaign had big headlines with statements like, ‘Jan Johnson, you are overdrawn. Again.’ No sale. Clearly these folks don’t want to have any fun Dennis and I quickly conclude.
Jerry Wolfe was the copy director, Rod Barrows the jack-of-all-accounts copywriter. Jim Sutter and Ron Bohart were the creative team on Heidelberg. Herb Liedele was copy-contact on the Boeing account. The Boeing account supervisor was Frank Caspers. Walt Kilgore, Frank Welch were account executives, Shirley Smoke the lady in accounting. Kathy Hale an assistant AE.
From my first days in Seattle, I was keenly aware that the realty good work in town was all coming from the same place, Cole and Weber, and the person responsible was Hal Newsom. His television commercials for National Bank of Commerce were high art and hard selling and Weyerhaeuser commercial after another flashed on my TV, the ultimate in the series ‘Tree House’, probably written by Hal, produced by Larry Fields and filmed by Mike VanAckeren. That’s where I wanted to be, doing work like that.
There is an epilogue to the Hal Newsom story that I will save for later, but will note that I interviewed with him twice and both times he was polite and respectful of my work, but said, emphatically, Cole and Weber was not the place for me. If Seattle, Washington, ever produced a better advertising professional than Hal Newsom, I have not met him or her in my forty years here.
And we should not let this moment pass without a mention of Dick Balch, the sledge hammer wielding Chevy dealer, and the Jingle That Will Never Go Away, for the Glass Doctor (who will fix your panes). And a special thank you for J.P. Patches and friends for being there for my children, 2500 miles from their favorite shows and now sitting laughing with Gertrude.
Meanwhile, back at Second and Union, our ideas for Boeing were dying like flies. Dennis and I quickly learned that everything we thought of had been done before or ‘they (meaning Boeing) would never buy that’. We were expected to develop at least one advertisement a week and Paul Olson, the Doctor of High Comps, would render our copy and layout into a perfect, hand made, high comp color rendition of our work. Paul once put a border of small flags around an advertisement of countries who had purchased the (undelivered) 747’s. Paul rendered each flag, perfectly. He will be remembered as a perfect gentleman in a business that was often not gentle.
These print advertisements layouts went to Frank Caspers and then, never accompanied by one of us, to Les Meyers and we would see them, shaking their heads (read ‘no, they will never buy this’) and they would go off to the WAC to play dominoes (is this peculiarly Seattle – playing dominoes at lunch?). It was 1970 and we went looking for martinis, beers and something that people in the other end of the office described as smelling like ‘burning rope’.
Dennis and I did a beautiful series of color comps, using nature photos from Steve Wilson and one of the images of a Pacific beach, no headline, just the copy which began, ‘Too often the touch of a the human hand has been the kiss of death to our environment...”
When the Washington State Tourism people came in to see the agency’s pitch, they filed into the small conference room and Rufus began pontificating, on and on and I noticed two of the clients were asleep and when I turned to see if Dennis had noticed, he was faking being asleep, drool coming down his chin and convulsed, I turn to see Rufus glaring at me. Dennis woke up and it was finally time to make our creative pitch. Only problem: two of the five possibly clients-to-be were still asleep.
I leaned forward, slapped the table and our sleeping prospects jerked awake and Rufus was really glaring at me, Dennis tried not to laugh and we showed our work. Rufus cornered me later to chastise me for my ‘immature’ behavior and liked it not at all when I suggested he was the one who put them to sleep.
We didn’t win the business. My take was that a lot of good prospects were put to sleep in that conference room. Ours is not to reason why, but I am very sensitive, still to seeing my work victimized by idiots. Or worse.
Dennis and I developed a full-page magazine advertisement for the Boeing 737 and showed it going from small airport to dirt runway, across Nova Scotia. I figured I would write the copy and therefore have to go on the production trip, a chance to get away from an agency so resistant to doing anything fun. The headline for this proposed advertisement was ‘A Day in The Life of Fat Albert’. This was a take-off nick name from the Bill Cosby Show because air traffic controllers had just begun to call the airplane ‘Fat Albert’. It was a widely known inside joke and the advertisement was supposed to appear in Aviation Week.
‘They would never run that advertisement,’ Casper said, annoyed that we kept trying to do things that had never been done before. We have a small victory when Boeing asks, desperate for publicity to promote lagging 747 sales (engines are coming, first deliveries are being made).
Dennis and I, charged with presenting this huge beyond any conventional scale airplane are not allowed to even see a prototype cabin in Everett. Our (demands) to fly on this new airplane were not taken seriously either, as more trouble, more frivolity from that new art director-writer team in the back corner. What are they laughing about? Why do they want to see, much less ride on, the newest, largest commercial airplane ever to go into service? Why don’t they just shut up and make ads, do as they are told?
So for the one millionth passenger promotion, we came up with a huge nose shot of the 747 with our headline, ‘Take One Today and Be One in A Million.’ The response from Boeing was very positive. They called for a presentation to the Boeing Design Department, sixty strong. This was my first and last meeting with any of the Boeing ‘clients’’, the people Frank went to see, who would never buy anything.
For this presentation, Dennis and I came up with what I think is the best advertising idea I ever had and died so ignominiously. Boeing was having trouble selling the 747, the sales resistance was to the size: would people 350 strong be comfortable in an airplane so big it sort of wallowed?
Our solution: Double truck, Wall Street Journal, New York Times and every other major daily: proposed headline: “Ask the Men Who Own One.” Visual: Four men sitting in director’s chairs on the wing tip of a 747, airplane filling the background. The four men sitting on the wing tip are the presidents of the major buyers, Pam Am, American, TWA . Eastern. The layout Dennis does is stunning. There is no block of copy, just call-outs with the president’s names and their airlines. Caspers is adamant that the four airline owners would never sit together, much less on the wing tip of an airliner.
“They won’t do it unless you ask,” Dennis reminded them. Les kept a Hasselblad on his back shelf, a reminder that at heart he was a photographer and he told Dennis the shot he had indicated was impossible to make. Usually unflappable Dennis went to Boeing Field, found an air stand and made the photo with a Polaroid, no wide angle lens and as spectacular at it was, the idea haters pounced on it and killed it. It never went to the client. And then they killed a two-deck cutaway advertisement with call outs of the features of the 747 with a headline written by Herb Liedle titled across two pages, “Spaceship”. Killed.
While the Boeing ads died one per week like clockwork, I enjoyed meeting and working with the inimitable Arthur W. Sawyer who doodled O’s and 1’s way before DOS and who had a wonderful biting wit and droll cynicism.
Mike Hill seemed to be having way too much fun building Heidelberg into a regional beer brand and I noted, had more success fighting off the idea haters. Hill keeps telling me I should meet Fred Hilliard now at McCann Erickson. “Hoke, you two guys should meet.” But we never did and in the seven months at Ayer, I hardly met anyone on the outside.
Jane Mavor was our good spirited creative department manager and enjoyed our practical jokes and general levity that seemed to irritate the other end of the agency. Frank Caspers called me in and handed me a ‘tissue layout’ for a Boeing advertisement to run in the Air Force Academy yearbook and it is divided into four panels, one of which shows a military version of the 747 with a Titan II missile tumbling out the back end, ready to be lighted and sent off to kill.
“Frank, my deal was that I would work on Boeing Commercial but not any of their military advertising. We all agreed to that before I came to Seattle. I won’t work on this (it’s the height of the Vietnam war).”
“This is a military advertisement and I decline to participate. Besides, all you need are four captions, for the illustrations. You can write those, Frank.” Then I see Frank and Rufus and Les and Fred Baker, huddled together and I assumed the new guy from Ayer Back East was in trouble. Only later did I find that the Baker management did me in at Ayer’s manager’s meeting held back east.
Rufus mentioned that Boeing might be interested in hiring Arnold Palmer to do a commercial for the 747 so Dennis and I did a story board showing Arnie putting his way down the double aisles, chipping to the upstairs lounge and at the end, turns to the camera and says with that inimitable Palmer grin, ‘the 747 is big enough for an army’, a reference to ‘Arnie’s Army’ of fans who followed him around golf courses. It is also a not so subtle double play that the 747 might be useful for military applications, something Boeing wanted to sell.
We present the script and storyboard and Rufus comes completely unglued when he learns I have contacted Palmer’s agent to make a preliminary inquiry. I never understood the offense, but it was clearly all the agency needed to end this chapter of my life in Seattle advertising.
Dennis and I would make ads and week by week they would go to the account executives and then, presumably, off to Boeing and we never heard from them again. It was frustrating, demeaning and I am sure I made it very easy for them to unceremoniously dump me on the street the day after the Fourth of July weekend, followed 20 minutes later by Dennis. So much good work killed by idea haters.
All good and bad things come to an end and on July 10, 1970, Les Meyers called me and gave me a check for two weeks pay. Twenty five hundred miles from home, knowing just a few people in town, a big house in Mercer Island Estates and now on the teaming streets of Seattle.
Ten minutes after I got the ax, Les swung it at Dennis. Over the next few years, the agency management swung the ax until finally, they swung and hit at the top. I sent a note to Lou Hagopian, president of Ayer in New York that the next time he decided to dismantle an agency, to start at the top and not at the bottom. He never responded.
While I was trying to convince agency president Rufus Carlson not to summarily fire me, Dennis barges into his office and follows one of the funniest exchanges of my life. As Dennis comes storming into Rufus’s office, Rufus looks at me and says, “I was just telling Dennis here.....” And Dennis, now red with anger, looks at Rufus and fires back, “Listen, @%^#*&$&, my name is Dennis and this is Bill and don’t you ^^%$#@ ever forget it!”
That was for all the times our work had been subordinated to a speech, diatribe, lecture or putting prospects and clients to asleep, literally or figuratively, before the creative could be presented. And for all the times our names had been forgotten, our work demeaned. Rufus looked confused when I last saw him. I took a perverse pleasure in the years that followed (after I finally got back to Seattle) when I would encounter him on the streets and would always get his name wrong, calling him ‘Fred’. ‘Les’, ‘Walt’, or some other AE name. Bad Bill.
In the coming weeks I came to learn a very painful reality: every time I called a friend in an N.W. Ayer office I met with a stony silence. I was a pariah. My friend at Ayer in Chicago promptly offered me a job and two days later called to say it was off. “I can’t touch you, Hoke. You’re in exile.” N.W. Error I began to call it. That’s NW for Northwest Error.
So I got into the unemployment line at Seattle Center. Bill Moyers wrote a description about this building and these sad lines where we stood shuffling to the window to have our little yellow book stamped with the names of the companies we had supposedly called in the previous to weeks to look for jobs that did not exist. The lines were seven abreast and moved surprisingly quickly. When my initial benefits ran out, they were renewed. The people in that unemployment office were wonderful and so was my mortgage banker at Security Pacific who told me over the months that there was hundreds in front of me. “I’ll let you know when it’s getting close,” he generously offered me.
I went back to Michigan and worked for a former employer, unsettled, my in-laws put money down on a house and my family waited for a buyer in Seattle, reducing the price by 10%, then 20%. A real estate agent made advances at my wife and we had the locks changed at midnight, by long distance calls. I could not stand Michigan and returned home and worked on a special assignment at Lennen and Newell and while my campaign for Alaska Airlines (‘See The Gold Coast’) did not fly, I met Marsh Terry, a life long friend.
I interviewed at Kraft-Smith in the Tower Building and sure enough, George Lowe did have an old typewriter under his desk and did stamp his feet on it out of frustration. The day I interviewed with George and not get hired, the creative department was subdued as someone, (op cit, George) had kicked out a big interior glass window, glass shards still on the floor. It looks like my kind of place to work, but it was not to be.
Now it is six months into the unemployment lines, making futile calls back east, being flown to Denver for a job, interviewing in Detroit at Gray Advertising, to no avail and then it is winter, and my mortgage holder calls to tell me my time is near, to get everything out of the house and ‘get out of state if you can’. Perfect. My family flies to Michigan where my wife and two children move into the in-laws. I drive a U-Haul truck and trailer, added at the last minute to handle the overflow, leave my car in the hands of my brother, who survived this and every Boeing cut and ended his career being named ‘Boeing Engineer of the Year.’
Down to may last $75, I drive to Michigan in winter at a governed 55 miles per hour, meeting my father-in-law in North Dakota for the dreaded drive to Detroit. Married, two children, maybe two more unemployment checks to come from Washington, maybe not qualified for benefits in Michigan. I had my butt kicked big time. The dream of living near the mountains was a long way from home. It was cold and wet and soggy and the streets covered in slush and I take the bus into downtown Detroit everyday, going from agency to agency. The creative director at Ayer-Detroit looks at my book disdainfully and the twenty-mile bus ride home to the family in the basement is very, very depressing.
Finally, I am offered a job as National Copy Supervisor on Chevrolet Trucks at Campbell Ewald in the General Motors Building, only half way downtown and I trudge home to announce I am employed, go outside for a smoke and my eye glasses shatter from the radical change in temperature. I see this as an omen, go inside and call a friend in Los Angeles where he is creative director on Nissan, then called Datsun.
I go to live with he and his wife in Beverly Glen, survive the Sepulveda earthquake but take a direct hit from the African Queen from the wall of books that fell and all but one flew over me. ‘That Chilton Motor Manual could have killed you,’ my host said and daily we went up to Mulholland where he drove the curves, sometimes using the clutch on whatever Datsun he was road testing and with cigarette in his mouth would explain in historical detail and in music language I could understand, every coda, every movement, ever nuance of any classical music that came from the radio.
We went rock climbing on weekends and he recited T.S. Elliot, Prufrock and Practical Cats his favorites, in the evenings, he and his wife comforting my bruised ego. We wrote ads, had fun, the agency loved me but would not pay moving expenses for my family. Parker Advertising was owned by John Parker and he ran the agency with kindness and generosity and with a real understanding of a Japanese auto maker he had taken on when none would and was now rolling in Datsun Z cars and running a very, very popular and profitable advertising agency in Palos Verdes.
It was a real pretty set-up. I was back to being a broadcast writer-producer where not everything had been done before and where we had adult production budgets. I received an assignment to write a poster for center field in Yankee Stadium to announced that pitchers from the bull pen were brought to home plate in a Datsun B-210 and I wrote what I thought would put me into the Copywriter’s Hall of Fame, ‘The Yankees Take One for Fast Relief’ but it died in Tokyo with the comment that ‘this does not translate into Japanese and has a different meaning’. Duh.
John Parker had nicknames for everyone (“Wild Bill”) and my friend the creative director Roger (”The Dodger”) and when you were hired, Mr. Parker sent his interior decorator in to furnish your office. In my case I sat in the outer reception area of my corner suite and did not dare put up an anti-war poster (‘unless approved by the interior designer’). They were serious.
When the art director I worked with Gary (‘The Guy’) told me that Mr. Parker rewarded good work on the spot, calling people in and giving them $10,000 with the promise they would never tell anyone. Sure. And thanks to “The Dodger”, the creative department was civilized with little of the typical creative-AE adversarial stuff going on; Parker was a good, fair place to work, no overtime, very....civilized.
And as Mr. Parker told me when he made the (final) decision to hire me, “Bill I see here on your resume you were a vice president and creative director. The way it is here is that I am the president and secretary and my wife is vice president and treasurer and there are no other officers. We own it all and we decide how it’s run. Fair enough?”
Good times, missed my family, loved the weather, was getting a good lesson in classical music, could climb to 5.2 and still had this nagging feeling that I still belonged in.....Seattle.
I never sent for the moving truck and after intercession in Seattle by Fred Milkie, a photographer I barely knew, McCann Erickson offered me a job to work on Pacific Northwest Bell. I had been without a real job for nearly 10 months. We had finally sold our house and lost all but $135 in equity. We were starting over. I rented a house on Mercer Island (not in the Estates), and soon had my family back in the northwest.
Two weeks later the top brass at Interpublic from New York came to Seattle to ‘go through the books’ and I was shortly announced as being on the list of 15 to be cut. In one of the low points in my life, I persuaded my boss, Bob Todd, to give someone else a chance to be unemployed and I met Fred Hilliard and we went to work on the phone company.
McCann had five office managers in the three years I was there. We had three or more account executives on the PNB account and one of them was Steve Darland. When I was at Ayer-Baker, people told me about the magic that was Steve Darland and his arrival on the PNB account was good, indeed. An adult. He was someone who respected what we did, fought for us, was honest and fun and the best AE I ever worked with, anywhere (and that takes in the 27 agencies where I worked full or part time).
Many of us hoped McCann would make Steve the office manager but whoever was in charge wanted to play roulette with the stability of the accounts we had. And they were good ones. PNB, Seattle City Light, with Jim Faber copy-contact, Roman Meal Bread, Brown and Haley, Unigard Insurance and Rainier Beer which meant all the Rainier we could drink, delivered to the refrigerator in the conference room.
We drank a lot of Rainiers, morning noon and night and went to lunch at the Guadalajara, Moe Rose’s, a tiny bar around the corner from the SeaFirst Building where we drank way too much gin and sometimes ordered lunch. The 610 was going strong, advertising people drank to excess and I was too much among them.
One day Bob Todd stopped me in the hall to ask if I will read the copy for a Rainer Beer commercial they are recording for a focus test. Weeks later the focus test is complete and the only definitive finding from the three approaches they test is that people like my voice. Hello? My voice? I become the three-state voice of Rainier Beer and when my first talent checks arrive, they are seized by the office manager, Phil Reilly, asserting that I can’t make this much money.
I finally tell him I have joined AFTRA and that he has to give me my checks and I make enough in the next year for a down payment on a small house near downtown Mercer Island. Finally, a little solvency.
And, for the record, here is the first commercial Dean Tonkin wrote for what we called the ‘Historical campaign’: “Back when Washington was covered with the mighty Douglas fir, men took to the woods to swing double bitted axes and pull cross cut saws all day and when they got back to their camp at night, they had more than flap jacks on their mind. Rainier has been making a beer for times like that since 1878, beer good enough to drink by the bucket. Mountain Fresh Rainier. Good beer...since way back when.’
There it is, thirty-six years later. Dean wrote wonderful commercials in this style, dozens of them, for rodeos, round ups, the Portland Rose Parade. Morrie Alhadeff, king of Longacres, commissions the agency to conduct a campaign against the legalization of dog racing in Washington and Jim Faber is dispatched to Arizona to look into the world of dog racing. It is not a pretty picture and Jim turns his considerable PR skills into a campaign.
Dean and Fred come up with an anti-dog racing campaign and I am the TV voice-over spokesperson and the radio voice, and I read the following over scenes of a Greyhound racing, and losing.... “Spot is running for her life. That’s the price of a loser. Spot must win....or die. Please, don’t legalize dog racing in Washington. Don’t let Spot die”.
We have no shame. It turned out to be no contest. Spot never raced in Washington and Fred and Dean went on to do wonderful work for Longacres, using the music Camp Town Races....” Doo-Dah.
These were some salad days, in spite of the dysfunctional agency management around us. It was the best of times and Hilliard and I swept the Seattle Art Director’s Show two years in a row and then the idea haters split us up, Fred to work with Dean Tonkin and me paired with Bill Addams. All wrong. Wrong for me, anyway.
I was not happy, accepted a job from John Strachan who was doing some really good radio on the 49th floor or the SeaFirst Building; McCann countered the offer and I got from them they felt like they were being held-up. Too bad. We put in hundreds of hours of overtime preparing for the annual PNB pitch, with three slide projectors and hundreds of slides and when it was over, the creative director who was not present the past 36 hours we lived and worked In the office, chided us for having one slide in backwards.
I get teamed up with Bill Johnson to work on the telephone company account and Bill discovers Mariette Hartley as ‘Ms Bell’ spokesperson for Pacific Northwest Bell and we go on to do a lot of fun production trips and created dozens of radio and television commercials for Ms. Bell. How come the account people made more money, got the Elliot Bay views, got the free tickets while we creative people did all the work?
The thing I remember about McCann was not that they hated ideas; they resented the people who had so much fun making ads. Gentle Bob Todd and his wife Karin left the agency. The place was poison, I could see now.
Dick Paetzke and I went to San Francisco to hire a new account executive for the Rainier account, someone the client said they wanted. Rainier was not happy with the agency’s work. We were on notice. Then Bill Johnson and I were put on special assignment to save the Rainier Beer account. We worked at Bill’s studio across town, smoked and drank and listened to the new account executive as he gave us a list of ‘beer words’.
We were told to stay away from any mention of Mt. Rainier in the new advertisements, never mind it was their name and on every bottle. No humor, either. And he insisted we re-position Rainier as a ‘premium beer’. Bill and I did a campaign, with music accompanied by gorgeous hand painted Bill Johnson story boards. The other master of drawing or painting story boards was Dick Brown who with his wife, Cherry, started the New School of Visual Concepts where I was an instructor in copywriting and broadcast production.
The advertising manager at Rainier stood by us through the creative development, saw the work unfold, never commented and true to his action, said not a word in what turned out to be the final presentation. “Come home to Rainier’ the singer sang and the commercials-to-be featured people returning to the northwest and advised to ‘Take Some Home’, an attempt to get more take out sales.
It was a good campaign and we even recorded one commercial with all 20 beer words. Maybe if Ed Combs had just heard that commercial, we would have saved the account. Charlie Watts had made the radio and music demo for the presentation and it was good, clean, fresh, icy, bold, clear, fresh (did I already say that?). The president of Rainier killed the entire campaign in the first five seconds in the McCann Erickson conference room when he saw the ‘Premium Quality’ and total package redesign, done by Mits Katamaya.
”Falstaff tried that (positioning as premium beer) and it did not work.” We sat there dumbly and in one of the most astonishing moments in my life in advertising, no one said, “Yeah, but your ad manager here told us to do this.” We died. Right on the spot. Eight weeks of day and night work, dozens of un-shown comps, all sitting on the conference wall shelf. No defense, nothing. No bang, barely a whimper.
All someone needed to do was turn to the Rainier advertising manager and say, “Bob, you told us to do this brand re-positioning...” But no one said a word and I punched a big hole in my office wall, to add to the ones Fred had left earlier. The only relief from the disfunction was to take trips to LA to produce radio and television commercials.
I took Mike Mogelgaard, and later Bob Hacker at SeaFirst to LA for production sessions and I would rent a car at the airport and then I would drive circuitously through Beverly Hills and show them movie star homes, “Back there in that little guest house is where Gregory Peck lived” and I would go on for blocks, day after day until they finally figured out I was making it all up.
McCann was also the scene of some lurid and very funny elevator jokes, usually played on AE’s. And there were the fake Hoke memos, one with Phil Reilly’s initials, telling everyone to clean off their desks every Friday night. And drinking in the conference room, sleeping there, sometimes. Terry Heckler and Gordon Bowker got the Rainier account and showed the mountain and had fun and Steve Darland quit, Hank Barer arrived, quit, came back, quit again and it was time for me to leave.
Good people left behind, Hal Atkins, Cebe Buford, besotted Bob Wesson gone and Stuart Hinkel in media, David Turrill, and one of the most underestimated and poorly used copywriters, Carol French. Dune Riedesel struggled with the management changes and so many good people victimized by poor management, absentee owners.
When I first came to McCann, a street-talking, rail thin mail boy came by my office and tossed the mail onto my desk. I did not know him, or anything about him, but looked up and said, still for some odd, still unknown reason, ‘Mrs. Hayden would never permit that, to be tossing mail like that.” He stares at me and is incredulous when I add, “Mrs. Hayden was my third grade teacher at Adams School in Birmingham, Michigan. Mike Mogelgaard stares and me, sits down and says, “Man, like I went to Adams School and Mrs. Hayden was my third grade teacher. This is so cool, you know, guy?” Go figure.
Mike was the mail boy and most people at McCann wanted him to be the mail boy forever. He could not find a way into the creative department where he belonged because he was not officially a writer or art director, but he found a way and was soon assisting Bob Sumner, AE on the Rainier Beer account, and working on the Longacres account. I think he may have worked as an assistant on the nearly impossible Seattle First National Bank account, the agency’s largest, lead by Steve Seiter.
The agency wanted none of Mike’s flamboyance, resisted his ideas and to their ultimate detriment, insulted him. I was happy to play even a small part when he got even with McCann. Do I sound vindictive? The problem with McCann Erickson was never the creative; it was unsophisticated marketers who ultimately victimized the creative people tangled up in constant management changes, never to the good.
When Bob Todd left, with Karin, to go be a painter in Vermont and for me a little of the air went out of McCann Erickson. Bob was a gentle man, fought for good creative, hugged you when up were disconsolate from yet another good idea killed by client. Or he hugged you because he sensed you needed a hug. McCann management could never get it right and while the creative work was good, sometimes really good, we lived in some disquiet, so many management changes.
When a long time employee was named office manager, he told the staff, “I guess this proves if you stay around long enough, you will get what you want.” Mike Mogelgaard and I went to LA to produce a final series of commercials for Rainer with Chuck Blore and somehow we get by the line, “Lift your can to celebrate life” – pretty risqué in those days. And then the account was gone. I become acting creative director but it is not to be.
If I am guilty of anything about the demise of McCann Erickson it is only of piling on. They were their own worst enemy and mean to the troops. Everything they say about the prodigious drinking in those days is true. It was rampant, daily and often accompanied by whacky tabacky. But alcohol. mixed drinks, were the drug of choice.
There were some truly legendary drinkers at the 610, Trader Viv’s, El Gaucho in the Tower Building, many radio and television sales people, ad agency media directors going to football games, salmon fishing, drinking, hard drinking. Here’s to Betty and Moe Rose’s and some of the best lunches of my life. Salad days, listening to Janice Joplin, Credence, Let the Sun Shine, sitting with Bob Todd, Hilliard, Hoke, Tonkin, Hal Atkins, Bob Sumner, Dick Paetzke, pumping quarters into the little machine at our table.
“Betty!” someone would shout, “Sprinkle the infield!” and martinis would appear, double and triple shots. We were usually the only customers and always by ourselves by 2 PM.
Ken Todd, the manger of PNB’s advertising took me to dozens of lunches at Victor’s 410 where Dorothy would bring us two sometimes three martinis, wine with lunch, after dinner drinks and I would return to work. He was very unhappy with the McCann management in Seattle and everywhere else.
He told me I could get a job at the phone company, that he could pave the way, but wisely discouraged me. We were good friends and he was a very civilized client, one of the best. Why did the agency want to antagonize him? Why piss off our biggest client. So what he wants to talk with the creative guy on the account?
Maybe they do talk books and Thurber. This is bad?
Ken called me to a meeting in that tiny little bar in the basement of the Exchange Building on Second Avenue and told me he was firing the agency. He’d had enough. I don’t recall who the McCann general manager was then --- that there had been so many was definitely a problem and I was certainly not the only creative person who was keeping an account from running away. Dick Paetzke was bonded to Unigard and Bob Todd to Roman Meal.
I suggested to Ken that rather than summarily file McCann – which in spite ot the good work Bill Johnson and I did to create Marriett Hartey as “Ms Bell’ and what I still believe a dazzling series of television commercial with her – I did not want to be fired, so I helped Ken draft a warning notice to the agency. The vice president of the agency was furious with me, reported me to San Francisco and the feared Carson McGill.
I told the VP and Carson I thought it would be better for the agency to be placed on notice as opposed to a summary firing, but I had my toes and fingers roasted anyway. I started to look for an exit.
A final aside about McCann Erickson, and maybe all big agencies of that era: After a year or so at McCann Erickson, and probably in lieu of a decent raise, I became copy director, a meaningless title but it did put me in the position of making copy assignments. I came to find that Hal Atkins could write brochures and long copy as good as anyone, enjoyed doing it, had wonderfully witty ideas and was sort of the agency utility player. Hal was never paid enough. He was the go-to guy for funny cards, last minute writing assignments and he was probably teased too much. Good night, Hal.
I also began working with Carol French, a writer without a permanently assigned art director and Carol began returning assignments to me and they were really good – gems. She was not yet thinking in terms of campaigns or the ‘big ideas’ that Hilliard-Tonkin, Bill Johnson and Bill Hoke got to work on but she worked hard and got better and better. She was a tall woman and bent over her desk, she wrote headlines, one after the other.
When I went to bat for her, I was told she was one of those minorities -- women, who ‘had a smaller cranial capacity’ (read glass ceiling) and no amount of me championing her would help. This would be a funny joke, but the people said these things, and believed them. I noticed Carol had to keep the same hours as the other women in the office, even thought she was in the creative department. Yes, I did some windmill tilting. I admit it.
McCann lost the phone company, then Mogelgaard escaped taking Longacres with him and with that the impetus for him to grow a very successful and highly visible advertising agency.
The one person who could have kept the good people and the five star accounts was there at McCann Erickson all along, but in true MaCann fashion they let Steve Darland get away and then there was no stopping us, Hilliard, Tonkin, Hoke, Jeff Tuininga, Carol French and here’s to Bob Whitten, the most unflappable production manager (maybe Cebe Buford was close) and to Bob’s inexplicable life long interest in the Texas Egg and Poultry News.
I left McCann after almost three years. I was at the height of whatever powers I had and our legacy was a good one. Together, we brought more gold medals to McCann than probably at any other time. I was making $20,000 and the account executives $30K or more. It made no sense. I interviewed in a private dining room at the WAC with Don Kraft, to be their CD. I insisted on total control, was told some in the creative department were exempt and I declined to pursue it.
I had a lunch, also at the WAC, with Ken Todd and Jay Chiat, a failed shot gun wedding set up by Ken, but a delightful and very funny man that Jay Chiat. Mike VanAckeren persuaded me to leave the agency business to go to work in his film company, headquartered in a nice loft in Pier 70. Dick Friel and Mike had just done an insanely funny film, for K-2 Skis --- Dick played ‘K2 Shorty” and it looked like Mike, with me using my agency contacts, could land some good television commercial business.
Before I could go to work for Mike, Les Smith bought out the VanAckeren Company and I found myself in the Kaye-Smith Studios on Fourth, still under construction, a new sound stage planned. I was officially creative director and assistant studio manager and had nearly 40 people, writing jingles, including Norman Durkee, Jimmy Kirk, Buzz Richman, Merle Addams, two of the Brothers Four, Dick Foley and John Paine, two of the nicest people I ever met. Make that three because George Toles was there, soon to depart.
In months, Lester ordered cut backs and in one day I terminated the eleven people on Lester’s list. Mike called me in to announce I was seen as the ‘’hatchet man’ and I asked how he was doing with the 11 people on his list and he says he thinks my eleven is enough for now.
Ironically, we were hired to produce a series of zany, unforgettable, indelible commercials for the guys who just won the Rainier beer account – Terry Heckler and Gordon Bowker --and we see the dailies of ‘Beer Crossing, the ‘Raineeeeeeer’ motorcycle, and one morning I find myself in a taxi with Mickey Rooney as we are driving to a Rainier shoot and Rooney turns to Rooney and says. rhetorically, “Rooney does not think $7500 for this gig is enough.” I reply, “What about $10,000?” and I hear Ronney in the back seat turn to say, ‘They’re offering ten grand, what do your think, Rooney?” “Rooney says he’ll take it.” Rooney replies, Rooney and Rooney got the ten grand and I got another chapter in my introduction to show business.
Harry Watkins joins the company and then Buzz Priestley, from KING TV, to produce a weekly Seattle Sounders TV show with John Best. The Sounders were magic but Lester continues to remind us our ‘numbers’ are not good. We film the famous AT&T commercial with Bill Russell sitting at a desk with basketball in hand and backboard behind him. He makes his sales pitch, tosses the ball back over his shoulder and the ball swishes through on the first take and we get both the swish and the wonderful laugh. The commercial is a big hit, we market ourselves like crazy and nothing comes of it.
Mike and I conceive of the first simultaneous round the world television program for New Year’s Eve, 1974, but the technology does not quite exist yet. Danny Kaye sends his money guy to Seattle and this time the firings were carried out in earnest. We built out a little voice-over room to see if we can get some of the agency work going to Lou Lathrop, and I meet a new to Seattle engineer I had probably crossed paths with at National Recording in New York years before. He takes over the VO room and Peter Lewis and I become life long good friends, a blessing.
Mike sends me to Los Angeles to interview a new grad from Brooks, an aspiring film editor. Bill Bruning and I meet him at the Hamburger Hamlet on Hollywood Boulevard and he arrives to work a few weeks later and then disappears upstairs, three packs of Pall Malls in hand, two pots of coffee. Sometimes he comes out.
We hire Gary Noreen, just out of school, Western, I think. Brad Huskinson joins the film division and Bob Beaumont. David Imenaka, our graphics and designer. We hire a>Simon Wilder to do the first of many sales films for clients using his Patton character, complete with uniform and pearl handled six guns. Lester says to buy the gear we need, build out the sound stage and somehow at the same time become a commercial film company; we are no longer a jingle works and Lester puts Harry and me on the road, selling. The pressure is on, for sure.
Harry gets Portland where he had worked in the agency business and he gets Vancouver, BC. I get Denver, Minneapolis (a good ad town) and places in between, like Bozeman, Billings, Missoula and Spokane.
It is clear to all of us: bring in the work, whatever the numbers. Lester wants to see the work come in. He’ll worry about the bottom line he says. Emphatically, but I am not sure everyone was always listening to the clear warnings. Now I am calling on agencies and trying to sell them on the idea of skipping LA and coming instead to Seattle, 1974 style -- not a very cosmopolitan place. Not an easy sell. I go so far as to show our reel of commercials accompanied by a handout that listed the cost of the commercials. Writers and producers (and clients) in these towns usually had one big production trip a year and no one wanted to come to Seattle when they could go to “LA”.
People loved our work, were amazed by the low prices and high production values, but they wanted to go to LA. We heard it all over. And, in truth, we were competing for production work on one side and trying to be a film studio with a sound stage. And people asked what Hoke, a creative director, was doing in the film business.
Meanwhile the cachet over the big A and B recording studios was wearing off with the loss of brilliant engineers Jimmy Gaines and Buzz Richman. When Mike VanAckeren was shooting the ‘big film’ -- 35 MM -- he could make magic and with his immense physical strength, there was no one better in a helicopter, filming a Boeing hydrofoil with the helicopter down below the trough of the huge waves and Mike yelling to go lower, or the breath-taking shot of the Weyerhauser ‘Tree House” commercial, the fly over was captivating. Mike had an eye and I recall picking up some test Polaroids he’d taken somewhere and I thought I had never seen a better Polaroid photo. But as good as Mike’s eye and reel were, it was no sale for Seattle for me, except for one account I developed while in Minneapolis.
Carol French had left McCann and gone to BBDO in Minneapolis and when I went to Minneapolis, I went to see her. I could not persuade the CD or producers at BBDO to come to Seattle, but Carol introduced me to the advertising manager of County Seat Stores, Levi only stores owned by SuperValue, based in Brooklyn Park, a suburb north of the Twin Cities.
Carole arranged a meeting in the BBDO office and after the discussion, I stayed up all night in my hotel at the Northstar Center and wrote three television commercials and a near-campaign and presented it all the next day to her. She was dazzled and impressed and I wrote my first sale, commercials to be produced in Denver, a non-union market. A reprieve.
We hired Mike Hill to join our corporate division, Kaye Smith Productions, in Bellevue. I suspect this ‘corporate division’ was really a ruse, so Les and Bob could see if Hoke, Priestley and Hill really could drum up corporate films. We couldn’t because Charlie Watts of Watts Silverstein was doing all the good corporate stuff, big racks of slide projectors, Alabama for Kenworth. He had the local corporate market cornered and soon he was making his music and productions for national clients.
We didn’t have a chance and we suggested that Lester hire Charlie and that will bring in tons of work. Lester reports back to us a few days later that ‘Charlie checks out” (how Les ‘checked out’ people is a story for another time) and then we invite Charlie in and Les offers him what I consider really (really) good money and an AMEX card, an air travel card...Charlie, ever graceful, declined and goes on to build his successful creative business.
Returning from a production trip, I had an idea while sitting in the Denver airport, watching one of the first live TV pictures from an airplane, a DC 10. Why not, I ask Hill, why not produce videos to show on airplanes just before they land, highlighting how to get through the airport, find transportation, where to stay, what to do, showing sights and sounds and making it all pay by selling advertising?
Buzz and Harry and Mike and I, now working for Les and Bob LaBonte in the Kaye Smith Building in Bellevue figured we would all be driving Porches and Destination Previews would be big, bigger than Concerts West. Mike and later Brad Huskinson tried to sell the idea under the name ‘Destination Previews’ and they gave it their all, doing a test with American Airlines, but the logistics of tape and movie film that ran the length of the airplane’s cabin made it too difficult, too hard to sell. Still seems like a good idea, landing in a new city.... But it was not to be and Les broke up the party at Christmas, 1975, firing me, Mike Hill and Buzz Priestley.
That party was over, but I learned some really valuable life long business (and life) lesson from Lester and from Bob LaBonte. Pat O’Day -- having left KJR -- was in an office next to mine on Concert’s West working on Concerts West. Pat and I went drinking at noon at Jonah and The Whale and he tried to get me to write film treatments on the E. Howard Hunt plane crash where Hunt’s wife was killed and then Pat claimed he met a guy on an airplane who Pat was convinced was D.B Cooper. I heard a lot of stories from Pat O’Day. I think some may have been true, but I am still not sure which. I think Pat and I may have quit drinking at about the same time, in 1988. Good for us. We shared some good times, drinks notwithstanding.
With no parenthesis, I want to add a note that in my entire life in this business, working in large advertising agencies in New York, LA, Chicago, Detroit, running a punch press in River Rouge, writing advertising or producing a film, sitting in a news room in Royal Oak, I never met a finer man than Les Smith. Les turned the County Seat Store work over to me, along with a typewriter and encouraged me to go start a business. Les gave me a three-month head start, another example of his decency to people.
Everyone I ever let go at Kaye-Smith received two to three months in severance pay and I know people who got more than that, appealing directly to Lester. For whatever reason, Priestley, Hill and Hoke developed just about zero corporate business in our six months there, so the ‘annual Christmas massacre’ was not unexpected.
So, thanks to the helpful push from Les, I began freelancing. I opened a company on Mercer Island with the forgettable name of Mountain Productions and spent my first summer working on broadcast projects for County Seat Stores, traveling all over the west and also working on ‘The Day in the Life of Longacres’ a film commissioned by Morrie Alhadeff.
I had worked for nearly two years to land this project that ended up at Kaye-Smith where Kip Anderson did most of the camera work and Gary Noreen and Bill Bruning did the production management and editing. We shot over 27,000 feet of film, getting to the track at 4 AM, and while I was not a horse person, the track and the setting won me over.
Morrie did the film’s voice-over while watching the cuts on the studio walls, adlibbing a wonderful track. The film – a real team effort -- won a Cine Golden Eagle and I finally ran out of freelance work, not liking to be so alone and my wife not enjoying the financial insecurity.
Free lance copywriting – free lance anything – is a harrowing ride. So I drift into Seattle and start working with Hilliard Tonkin who have quit Ayer Baker where they have done some wonderful work on the Olympia Beer account. They think they will win the entire account. They think they will win the Longacres account.
They are Hillard Tonkin Advertising, in the lower level at 85 South Washington, in the old St. Charles Hotel Building, newly remodeled, open for business, expectantly. Patty Graf joins the fledgling company and we work around one large table, smoke dense, playing one million two million, Dean on the hunt for new business, finding little at the City Loan Pavilion. Almost immediately, the agency writes an intemperate, impatient memo to Olympia Beer and that is the end of that.
By now, Mike Mogelgaard has left McCann, fired I think, and I arranged some free studio time for him at Kaye-Smith and he produced enough good radio to steal the Longacres account away from McCann.
Take time out here for a very sweet moment.
I have done my three years at McCann, helped Mike find space in the Tower Building and he is off and running. Vindication. He later goes on to steal the entire SeaFirst Bank account away from McCann, one of the great stories in Seattle advertising history and one of the great advertising campaigns, and coups.
Sometime the good guys do win and the big national agencies lose their good people, their blue chip accounts and they inexplicably change their name and become obscure. ‘That which deserves to live, lives’.
Someone else can tell it better, but as I recall, SeaFirst Bank got into real financial trouble and McCann seems paralyzed at the thought of doing any real strategic thinking (calling Steve Darland, calling Steve Darland) and the bank is in real trouble and fighting to survive when Mike Mogelgaard meets the president, a man named Cooley, I think, at a party and Mike suggests that he has an advertising idea to position SeaFirst as making a come-back.
Someone else can tell it better, but as I recall, SeaFirst Bank got into real financial trouble and McCann seems paralyzed at the thought of doing any real strategic thinking (calling Steve Darland, calling Steve Darland) and the bank is in real trouble and fighting to survive when Mike Mogelgaard meets the president, a man named Cooley, I think, at a party and Mike suggests that he has an advertising idea to position SeaFirst as making a come-back. .
In that no one at his agency. McCann Erickson, has apparently come to him with an idea, he tells Mike to show him what he’s got.
Mike and art director John Verziemcks, copywriter Dan Grows do brilliant newspaper advertisements featuring Winston Churchill, Y.A. Title, a football player, dramatic famous photos of people who made a come back.
It is great advertising, maybe some of the best ever done here and it works and Mike wins away the entire SeaFirst account and wins the right to park his car on the sidewalk in front of Duke’s on lower Queen Anne. I love this story!
Meanwhile, back at Hilliard Tonkin in Pioneer Square, Fred and Dean are brilliant creative guys, but with no business acumen.
In the late fall of 1975, when I first start freelancing with Hilliard Tonkin, they are working with Seattle’s newest sports franchise, The Seattle Mariners. Dick Verertlieb is the indomitable general manager of the M’s and the agency creates a campaign for the new team, “We can do it together’. Dick Brown paints a pitcher’s mound scene with team, umpire, plus a family, all giving the pitcher advice. It becomes the opening day program.
Dean arranges for Ray Charles to sing a version of ‘Take me out to the ball game’ for $3500 and then Dean gets to call back Walter O’Malley, owner of the song, to say we can’t go ahead, the M’s don’t want to buy radio advertising.
The work on the M’s is maybe the agency’s best but it is short lived as the team has no real promotion or advertising budget.
We spent the last summer on a wonderful grass roots campaign to get Paul Schell elected as mayor but can’t get enough money to defeat Charlie Royer.
I get the copywriting assignment for Paul Schell and Fred and I dig in. The first ad is a big head shot of Paul with the headline and no logo “According to a recent poll, 98% of you do not know who I am.” The last advertisement was a headline, “What they have done for the city” with their campaign logos as the artwork.
Under Paul Schell’s handwritten campaign logo (Hilliard) were two columns of issues and causes, a two column list of all of Paul’s civic involvement. Under Royer, there was one line that referenced that Charles Royer had been president of a middle school PTA.
Royer called it unfair, but it was perfect and Arthur Sawyer said if we could have run it a few more times, Schell would have beaten the well-known newscaster. Paul West narrated endorsement commercials for Schell that were among the best I ever did.
On one forgettable morning, Hilliard Tonkin and Hoke run into Morrie Alhadaff in front of Kaye Smith studios and someone tells Morrie his advertising for Longacres stinks and he bristles (not a good sign at all) and he takes a shot about their lack of business smarts (word must have been spreading) and when he hears the insult about his advertising, he says in an icy voice, “You don’t tell a woman she had bad breath when you want to dance with her,” and that is the end.
He walks away and I see it clearly, Olympia Beer gone over an intemperate memo and now this, stupidly pissing off the one guy in town who could have been a king-maker for them. Why?
Hilliard Tonkin have Pizza Pete, Atta Boy Dog Food, with Larry Vanover dressed as a dog, doing a commercial as a ‘spokesdog’. The agency, first in the basement, moves up stairs and slowly disintegrates, a mess of poor financial management, absentee ownership and stupid creative decisions and never a chance to really show their stuff.
The agency died in a failed campaign for GranTree Furniture Rental and a final pitch to Metro is lost when Fred tries to explain a TV concept by sitting in a chair on the (very nice) Metro conference table and the next agency, Livingston and Company wins the account by tossing $25,000 in cash on the slightly blemished conference table saying they can keep the money if Roger and his good creative don’t prevail. I’d rank this new business pitch as the worst of my life. Ever.
Dean leaves the agency and I get my name on the door just long enough to get sued and immediately lose a lawsuit from a creditor. It will not be the last.
It’s over for Hilliard and Tonkin, but there are some accounts left and finally we have someone with financial and management ability in Patty Graf and she and Bob Hanson and I start an agency amid the smoking ruins of Hilliard Tonkin. The IRS and creditors continue to come looking for Hilliard and Tonkin. Not pretty.
Sad business. All the hopes, the dream of being able to work directly with clients and have their total trust, no AE’s, no research MBA’s in the middle. Every boutique agency-to-be dreamed of it, Hilliard Tonkin no exception. They would win the big client, do brilliant work and not have a clue about the million business details.
Graf Hanson Hoke opens its doors in about 1977 at 85 South Washington. Arthur Sawyer is our media director and there are plenty of good freelance people in the St. Charles Hotel building, the fledging Weekly next door and hope in the air.
We do well. We fire the Pizza Pete pizza people and somehow land the Pietros Gold Coast Pizza Account. Plus a few of the remaining Herfy’s Drive In restaurants, a locally failed attempt to take on McDonalds and Burger King.
Pietros is a 17-store chain, owned by Campbell Soup and the local president is a man named Jack George, inconstant, irascible, charming, demanding.
On hearing from a media representative (thanks, Jack Young) that Graf Hanson Hoke is a ‘finalist’ for this account we had barely heard of, Patty calls Jack George and he invites us to come to his office in Northgate. Jacks seems to like us and says we are now a finalist and, oh, by the way, ifwe hire you, will you personally visit every store?
Jack says the agency decision will be made the next Wednesday. Today is Thursday. Patty devises a store report form and we divide up the Pietros, Patty and I drawing Oregon so on Friday we fly to Medford, check in with the store, have a Polaroid photo taken with us and the manager, ask the manager to put the photo into the inter office company mail and send it to Jack. He’ll have all the reports on his desk on Monday morning.
By Sunday night, we have been to all 17 locations, eaten a lot of pizza and introduced ourselves to every manager, had out photos taken with most. Monday morning and Jack calls, demanding to know what all these Polaroid photos are and what were we doing in Tiggard, get up to my officeand explain this to me right now. I said he was irascible.
We go to his Northgate office and explain to Jack that we, the three of us, Graf Hanson Hoke have been to every store, checked the store signs, sampled the salad bars, eaten a lot of pizza.
“You mean you have been to all our stores? In the past three days? Since I last saw you?” Jack is incredulous and immediately calls the advertising manager at Campbell Soup in Philadelphia to tell him that Graf Hanson Hoke, unknowns and the most unlikely finalists in town have visited all their stores over the weekend.
The Campbell Sound guy says he will be in Seattle on Wednesday and wants to meet us to make sure we are real and to award us this $1.2 million dollar account. They have no other questions. The guy from Campbell Soup was not enthused about the long flight of stairs to our offices, but we added enough temporary staff to be looking pretty busy.
Graf Hanson Hoke is on the map. It was a huge win with radio and television commercials following, some decent media commissions, enough to keep our media director, Authur Sawyer in lead for his automatic pencils.
This Pietros win was probably the best, sweetest, win in my advertising life.
When we opened the doors at Graf Hanson Hoke, we minted out the offices and Patty transformed the carnage and bad Hilliard Tonkin fixtures into a classy Pioneer Square advertising agency, up that one long flight of stairs.
We had furnished an office for Arthur and before our first open house. I went into Arthur’s office to see how he was doing. When I went to sit down, there was no chair. When I offered to get a chair, Arthur said, ‘No, no chairs.”
“Why?” I asked, explaining that this new agency could afford chairs and inimitable Arthur says, “No chairs for media reps. They want to sit in them. Each one takes five minutes. I tell them to stand by the door and throw their media and rate cards on the corner of my desk, close to my wastebasket and then I tell them to leave. I then throw away their media kits.”
I thought this was harsh until I became a media director. Cathie McKinney joined the agency as an intern from Washington State University and began a business relationship that lasted for twenty years.
Graham Biddle became the next intern, also from WSU and when Ed Bannister, the amazing advertising professor at WSU died, Graham and I worked on his Eulogy which I was privileged to deliver. Graham went on to a wonderful career and life, in Anchorage.
Dan Gross was to be our next intern and ended up at Evan Pacific with me, where we worked on Mt. House Freeze Dried Foods. Dan was also known as the intern driving the Chevrolet with the front end looking like it hit a cow in Colfax (it did).
We acquired the Uwajimaya Account and were graced to work with Tomio Moriguchi and his late mother on a series of television commercials and we launched a popular transit advertising campaign ‘Rice to Rice Krispies, ‘Cookies to Kimonos’ and, at Christmas, a transit poster with the line. “Bah Humbow”.
And then, for Ronald’s Tea Mix, ‘Some Like it Hot, Some like it Cold.”
Our young agency, rising Phoenix-like from the detritus of Hilliard Tonkin was on a definite roll. We added State Mutual Savings Bank and, while small, we had our ‘bank’ and thanks to Patty, we could produce a real profit and loss statement.
We produced a statewide public Service campaign for the Washington State Patrol, ‘Operation 55’ in support of the new speed limit and we used Simon Wilder and his Patton character to tell people to slow down, ‘foreign oil has no place in American carburetors’.
We took on an account, Pacific Alaska Airlines, did some work for a quickly forgotten professional tennis team in Seattle, name lost.
The Aurora Plumbing account brought to the agency by Bob Hanson (along with his fame of creating the line, “Friend of the Family’ for Washington Mutual) provided a lot of laughs, small space newspaper advertisements “Two Heads Are Better Than One, ‘Ohms For the Range’.
Graf Hanson Hoke wrote and produced dozens of radio commercials for the Puget Sound Radio Broadcasters Association, all with the tag line, “I heard it on the radio” and the combined radio stations aired over 14,000 of the ten and fifteen second commercials in the first quarter of 1978.
Bob and I worked as a creative team on some projects and we had successes and I admired his knowledge of classical music. We would have contests to name the composer or name of the piece playing on KING FM. Bob had a piano in his office but I never heard him play it. I understand he was quite good.
Emmett Watson wrote a nice piece about the agency. We added Judith Taylor and several others and took over the entire second half of the second floor at ‘St. Chuck’s’.
It became increasingly clear that our three-way partnerships was not working and so after barely two years and a lot of really good work, Graf Hanson Hoke paid all of its bills, sold the furniture and Patty went to Alaska for a visit. Hanson left and Hoke went to Evans Pacific for a six-month stint as creative director on 54 accounts, many of them food products.
Business partnerships are never easy and I suppose the one with the three principals each 12 years apart where the youngest, and the only woman, managed the business, made it more difficult for some than others. We managed to avoid any serious recriminations and only once in a great while speculate as to what might have been.
Between the three of us, we had really good creative chops, a solid business and smoothly running advertising agency… and we had momentum. Then it was over.
But I was on to Evans Pacific and was encouraged by the whiz kid from Salt Lake, Lon LaFlamme. It looked like he could win some good accounts for us.
Michele Stonebreaker and Jean Lehman were the lead writer and art director team and, plainly, the agency was not ready for them in the 1980’s and I soon lost these two good (really good) creative people and could never replace them.
The Evans people were more than fair and patient with me but process and memos and reports and meetings were always more important than a good creative idea and after six months, and in spite of the great help I received from Jim Webb, I left.
Lon said to wait ten years, that we could build a really good agency and make money. I loved his energy but the establishment systematically killed good work.
Jean and Michelle had called me at a Board meeting in Salt Lake and I left the post-board meeting in Park City to try to get home to save my creative team, but management was not supportive.
I keep trying but finally I am making a pitch to one of the salmon consortiums the agency had an a client and my pitch is to get these 30 (prosperous) salmon cannery owners to agree to spend $6,000 for radio creative and production for commercial to sell cannot salmon all over the country.
I play some radio demos, talk about the need for radio that cuts through and finally I prevail and they take a vote right in front of me to approve the expenditure. It has gone as everyone planned. Right?
I get up and leave the meeting and am standing talking to Marge, the wonderful woman in production about how now we can do some radio production, get some attention and maybe sell some salmon in San Antonio.
I see the meeting is breaking up and I head back to say goodbye to my new best canned salmon friends when the agency president emerges and says he wants to talk to me.
We go to my office where he states he did not like the idea of spending $6,000 of the client’s money to get them the best radio they ever had and earn big commissions and says he called for a re-vote and now there was no money for radio production.
“So, Frank, let me get this straight. After I left, you told them they should not listen to your creative director whom you hired for his broadcast advertising skills? You just engineered a vote against your own creative director?” Maybe, just maybe, Frank got it, even a little bit. Too late.
“Frank, I quit.”
Patty and I bought a one room cabin on pier blocks on twenty acres west of Kingston and thus began Groke Farms (We’re talking good times here’) and for the next seventeen years, the home of Hudson Graf, Susan and Nick Hoke and then an adopted son, Ron.
No one who came to Groke Days will forget the hand pushed four-seat merry-go-round, the baseball games, the overhead cable ride, the rope bridge, the horse shoe pits, ‘touch’ (not) football games and lots and lots of beer, word chopping, ass kicking and good times, indeed.
Reality set in when we realized we could not profitably raise herbs or cut and split and haul and stack firewood. Bill was not going to hitch up a draft horse and log out timber from the woods. We burned five cords of wood our second year at Groke. The first year we simply froze, feeding wet Alder into our unbelieving cherry-red Momma Bear.
It was the best of times and slowly, we became wood-wise and loved our walks in the woods and nearby clear-cut and finally some time with the kids.
Shortly after leaving Evans, Ken Todd hired us to produce a film to sensitize people towards people with disabilities in the work place and “Interruptions’ was the result. It was a big, complicated production ably managed by Dan Adams at Northstar where both Mark Nealey and Ron Gross were learning their craft under the sometimes rough about the edges Tom and Robin McNeil.
The film demonstrated how, by chance, accident of birth or just bad luck, people’s lives are interrupted and they become disabled, often to the discomfiture of those around them. By divine providence or the sheer force of Tom McNeil’s considerable will, we filmed the moment a three year-old boy walked for the first time, his first steps caught on film. The film took a real toll on all those involved and when it came to write the script, I composed six short, eight-line bridges, to handle the segues between the stories. All the people spoke for themselves.
Everyone in the crew was profoundly marked by the experience. The film went into syndication and won ‘Best Film on Rehabilitation’ and then Patty won the Lawman Jeans account and pretty soon this sassy girl we found in a recording studio in San Diego was, Heart-like, singing “Lawman Jeans….hot on your tail’ and the jeans flew off shelves and we met our Hong Kong clients in fancy hotels and restaurants in Los Angeles, wondering how they would react to seeing our world wide headquarters in the expanded farm house with office now in our second floor bedroom overlooking a salmon stream.
We began to do more public service work, a PR campaign for the Washington Traffic Safety Commission for child safety seats, “First Ride, Safe Ride” and them the single most powerful campaign Patty and I ever did, “Don’t Let a Drunk Drive’, filmed by the late Mark (Amos) Nealey, directed by Patty and using widows, orphans, victims, survivors of drunk driving collisions. The commercials had a huge impact and won every major northwest advertising award and were credited with a measurable reduction in drunk driving deaths.
We then did another drunk driving campaign, ‘The New Law is Tough” a campaign for the State Liquor Control Board, then ‘Not a Minor Problem’ filmed by Larry Hutson, a teen in front of a convenience store trying to get someone to buy him alcohol. Then ‘Phone Home’, another Graf-Nealey collaboration to deter drunk drivers.
Patty opened a small office in the Globe Office Center to appear a little more respectable to our Lawman Jeans clients. She added the Birth & Family Clinic as a client, the first of what turned out to be many medical and healthcare clients.
In 1983, working from home, we presented a spec campaign to the Kitsap Physicians Service and when the deciding doctor asked Patty if we had a real office, she said we did and a few days later we bought furniture and opened up Graf-Hoke at 215 Second Avenue South, our office and in-city apartment. When we stayed in town, we could hear the waterfall in the little United Parcel park out the window below us.
Bill took a detour and went to work on a special project for Elgin Syferd, to develop an image campaign for Holland America. Ken Orvidas was brought in from San Francisco and we did three campaigns and after three months they were presented and in spite of what I thought was some really good creative, nothing was ever heard from again.
Reminded me of the Boeing account except people here seemed to like us and respect creative work. Towards the end of this engagement, Ron Elgin asked if I would like to serve as acting creative for six months while Terri Small was on maternity leave.
Six months it was. Most of the creative people were bonded to Terri and it became clear that if any work was going to be done, it would be by me and Jonathan Stratman doing it. The rest of the creative team was apparently still working for Terri.
Jonathan and I had a lot of fun doing radio and television for Old National Bank, taking Jonathan on his first production trips to LA, staying in the Continental Hyatt House, working with Chuck Blore and Don Richmond, Lee Lacy Films.
Jonathan wrote wonderful advertisements for Holland America, a very demanding account and I wrote an advertisement for Health Plus with the headline, ‘What are your waiting for, the measles?”
An aside about a dear friend and wise man, Jonathan Stratma: We had been working together for a few months at Elgin when one afternoon on the ferry to Bainbridge, returning home, we went into the galley to buy a beer and there being no room to sit in the assigned beer drinking area, we went to the front of the boat and sat and soon were interrupted by a ferry worker who finally looked down to see Jonathan pouring out his beer. On his shoe.
Jonathan and I collaborated on several other projects which did not sell but one won a Soundies for Best Spot That Never Made it On The Air, for a wonderful series of commercials for Chelsea Audio Video – Buddy Hilly Week, The Beatles, Elvis...wonderful work, produced by Terry MacDonald.
Then Jonathan and his wife Billie wrote, produced, arranged and sang a delightful song, “Do the Olympic Peninsula Loop." And Jonathan and I developed, he wrote and we produced a wonderful series of Washington State Centennial Minutes, historical sketches, beautiful told by Jonathan. They should have sold, all of them.
Pete Delauney and I become good friend and did a wonderful ‘breakfast under a buck’ radio series for the local McDonald’s stores, working with Peter Lewis, a joy. It is some of the best radio I ever did and such fun with Peter.
Then a radio-TV campaign for the Seattle PI and it was the last time I would work with Don Richmond when, the day of the shoot, and I am near shouting at him for the ‘concept’, he looks at me and says in this dead pan voice, says to me, “Bill, say this as fast as you can three times, ‘Morning does not snap, crackle or pop without the morning PI’’. Go ahead and try this. Say it three times. Fast.
I will never know if Don had ever thought about this until I began to ask for this idea. My guess he just thought it up at the moment, so he could finish his breakfast in the hotel. He was positively the best advertising creative person I ever met. It was like he was made to come up with one brilliant idea, song, jingle (“Chicken Delight we deliver” he sang) and every time I worked with him was fun no matter the client product or deadline.
A few hours later, we are taping and filming our people on the streets and I am hearing a man say, ‘Morning does not sapple, popple or…oh dear me,” and followed a whole series of these charming commercials, conceived by Don Richmond and then editing them, working for the first time with Terry MacDonald who has his new studio right downstairs from Elgin Syferd.
When leaving MacDonald Recording from one of the edits for the PI commercials, I looked at a mountain photo, taken at night from about 12,000 feet on Mt, Rainier and I turned to Terry and said, “I know where this is, I’ve been here” and that was a few hundred trail miles, a trip to the top of Mt. Rainier and a lot of laughs in between ago.
Later, when the six months at Elgin Syfred were up, I learned how much I had been subverted how most of the creative department had been working against me. Ron Elgin was very fair with me and in retrospect I can see now how much an impossible situation that was, a ‘temporary creative director’.
It was a good culture, not perfect, but, for me a chance to write and produce radio with decent budgets, to work with Jonathan on the Old National Bank radio campaign, some nice work, good production sessions.
It is so much better to have decent budgets, to be able to call Chuck Blore andDon Richmond, to have the money to pay local producers, who for years got our dregs.
I wondered when I left Elgin Syferd in 1984 if this would be my last time with a big agency. It turned out it was. I guess the business is all changed. Maybe Ron will invite me on a tour of his agency someday, this new agency world, me an advertising child of the 60’s, Mad Man turned mountain climber, Don’t blink.
During my time with Elgin Syferd, Patty was doing more work from her office in the Globe Building, She wrote and produced a wonderful radio campaign for the Washington State Ferries, wonderful first person narratives…”Emily’s Story’, the ‘floating jewel of the night’, the African Queen…
So when the president of KPS Health Plans in Bremerton came to Pioneer Square see if we really had an office, we even had a few (friends and relatives)sitting at desks, looking like staff. We were hired and worked with them for 17 years.
We Incorporated as Graf Hoke Medical Marketing and in addition we took on projects and longer term assignments for the Doctors Clinic, California Medical Society, hospitals, multi-specialty clinics, the first AIDS testing center.
We won a contract from the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council and developed a three-year employment campaign to encourage the hiring of people with special needs and developmental disabilities. “We have a talent for work” resulted in hundreds of job leads and an estimated 720 new jobs.
The campaign won a Halo, the PRSA best PSA campaign and many other industry awards.
Patty directed a series of eight television commercials for the DDPC campaign and she had the subjects, some profoundly disabled, appear on camera, talk or communicate in their own way.
In 1989 we moved from Pioneer Square to 2019 Third, between the Men’s Service Center and the Angeline Women’s Center and acquired the PhysicansInsurance account, also working with St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham and other medical and health care providers.
We produced a major healthcare reform public communications program for KPS in Kitsap and worked with the Thurston County Medical Bureau. I went to a healthcare convention in Bellevue where there were 38 HMO’s represented. The healthcare free-for-all was about to end.
Soon we had 16 full time staff. Patty was president and CEO. Gregg Scott was the creative director. I was spending more and more time in north Kitsap caring for our two children with disabilities. Medical providers were imploding while the agency’s overhead stayed the same.
We made what I thought was a brilliant pitch to Larry’s Market. Came in second of five.
We spent enormous resources to prepare a beautiful custom portfolio in response to a request from the University of Washington Medical Center and were disheartened to finally get it returned, unopened. We don’t win them all.
By 1993 Bill was at home full time and the company located to Poulsbo where it had offices in the Liberty Bay Center and later on Moe Street. Bill retuned to a more active role and the agency added several accounts, including developing the “Buy it Right in Kitsap County” buy local promotion for Sound Publishing.
The agency did several prop bono projects for the Kitsap Health District, ‘Blow Bubbles, Not Smoke’ and continued to work with local disability agencies.
Bill and Patty built a company for a local DD service provider, called Kitsap E-Z Earth, a vermicompost operation that employees people with disabilities.
The agency moved to Bremerton in 2002 where it provides strategic communication services and offers ‘The 90 Minute Branding and Marketing Plan Workshops. More than 5,000 participants completed the workshops.
Patty Graf-Hoke provided strategic planning and communication services and offers a ’90 Minute Branding and Marketing Plan Workshop For Women Business Owners.
With the advent of the Internet and the train-wrecked economy, Patty went to work as executive director of the Kitsap Peninsula Visitor and Convention Bureau. Bill works part time for Washington CASH, a micro-enterprise program where he has helped more than 1,000 small business start-ups.
Over the years, I had written some often out-spoken pieces in ‘Marketing’ for Larry Coffman and when it became clear that I was done with going back and working for an agency, when my life and thoughts were more focused on hiking and climbing, gardening, travel, I wrote a final (not) article for ‘Marketing’ and listed ten career hints for those considering a life in advertising.
I admit to feeling a little bereft, and then I started to look back at my career, my work and while I found great solace in the public work advertising Patty and I had done, my reflection also reminded me of how inconsequential so much of the work was, the campaigns we thought were so trick, so smart, so clever.
I supposed everyone reaching retirement age looks over their shoulder, tries to take some measure, rationalize the stupidities, the railings, wind mill tilting, wasted time away from family, not taking vacations. Dumb.
If you are young and reading this and if the advertising (agency) business is still taking way more of your time than it should, if your ego is more centered on a new campaign, a TV production, take this gentle reminder that you are better off at home, or on a mountain trail, than giving so much to a company that probably does not care about you.
So I am in this funk when an email arrives from Hal Newsom, commenting on my ‘Marketing’ column and then he takes a paragraph to comment on my life and contributions to advertising in Seattle and tells me I should be proud of what I have accomplished.
I met him twice and while I admired his work, I did not know Hal Newsom knew I existed or any advertisement I had ever made.
And today, framed on my wall is this generous, kind note from the dean, maybe the king, of Settle advertising.
A couple of thoughts
I have no idea what it is like to work in the creative department of an advertising agency in these days of such technology, but recall that in my first year in advertising, 1963, we were just getting our first electric typewriters, Type was set by typesetting companies and rushed back and forth by messenger or taxi. Photos were processed in labs and photo re-touchers were employed to take out zits. Plates were used, or engravings made (aka ‘electro plates’), for reproduction. Ruby Lithe was used to mask photos on ‘keylines’ and some type was still set by hand, locked in a chase and a proof pulled.
The advertising industry had a wide network of suppliers, working together under a Bob Whitten, Paul Olson, Bill Werrbach. Computers came in the early 1980’s and everything changed, courtesy the Apple graphical interface and Pagemaker. Hello, Macintosh and goodbye to the mechanical production of advertising materials.
As for writers and art directors, we worked as a team, were often inseparable. I worked with some fine art directors and none more creative or more personally complicated than Fred Hilliard. This collaboration between what Fred and I would, half-joking, call ‘words’ and ‘pictures’.
I worked with Fred for at least two solid years at McCann Erickson and another two years at Hilliard Tonkin. Four years. We rode the Bainbridge Ferry in the morning, usually had lunch together, later at the J&M Café and Cardroom, where Harry Poll would hold forth with Dick Vertlieb at their special table and sometimes we got back to work before 3. We would ride the boat home standing on the upper deck smoking and watching the city go away. And then most days I drove Fred home to his place on Point White.
This was – maybe it still is – an intense relationship, personal, up—close and confidential. Big egos are involved and when Fred and I would reach an impasse, when one of us had ‘the’ idea the other did not like, we would say, “Fred, let’s log this idea” and that was the cue to give up trying to convince the other guy you had something better than sliced bread.
Through this, Fred and I did a lot of really good creative work. Bob Todd nurtured and babied us, fought for our ideas, even a bad one, and, like us, was generally outspoken in his contempt for the mediocrity of the McCann management and many of the account executives.
Fred and I had the temerity to ask for a reward (read raise) after sweeping the Seattle Art Director Awards judged by a condescending Sy Lamb from ‘Doyle Dane’. It was suggested we were ingrates and were offered ‘comp time’ which was never forthcoming.
After two years, Fred and I won a bunch more awards, for Roman Meal Bread and others and McCann logically split us up. I can see him back from lunch and hear his voice, “Let’s work, Hoke; your office or mine?”
Here’s to a fine advertising art director. Fred, we hardly knew you.
Obviously, this ‘history of Seattle advertising’ is based on events going back nearly 40 years and while some of the details may be wrong, it is not intentional, but I am responsible for any errors or confusion. I worked from memory, a small file of ‘old ads’ and a box of films and tapes, from my ‘reel’.
In looking back over these ‘few words’ turned to 13,000, I see a lot of frustration in not getting good ideas sold, of the needless, almost perverse oppositional system in ad agencies where the people making the ads were (are?) too often subordinated to memo and report writers who seldom were capable of strategic marketing thinking and where the words ‘results’ and ‘sales’ were seldom heard.
I want to acknowledge a long working and personal friendship with Dan Adams (Adams Creative) whom I think may be one of The most universally gifted all-around advertising people I ever met; Dan writes, shoots, edits, makes ads and websites, is a working pro and, rare among ‘creatives’ he keeps his ego out of the work. Dan has saved me more times than I can count.
It’s to Seattle’s everlasting loss that Steve Darland was not more prized and did not stay here. Hilliard said it was a town that ate its own.
it was the rare account executive, Don Noel, for one, who could be trusted to take work and really try to sell it, throw a layout back at a boorish client.
One moral is that my best work was done when my name was on the door. The one major exception to that was at Elgin Syfred where for whatever reason Ron Elgin left the creative people alone and would fight for what we did. We managed to do a lot of really good work in those six months. I appreciated that opportunity and never had a chance to acknowledge it.
I resolved I would not ever look back at my life in advertising in this much detail, much less write about it publicly. But it is a story, at least my story and from 1969 to the early 1990’s I was closely tied to the Seattle advertising community. Blame Larry Coffman for encouraging me. I thank him for his friendship, for incisive editing of my columns and for holding the Seattle advertising (and printing) communities together.
I look forward to reading what others have written.If you find your name in here and want to take issue, a redaction, retraction, a re-wording or take umbrage, please let me know. No offense intended.
12-15-2008 Revised 12-8-2010
One man should also properly be writing his history here and that is Harry Watkins. He could tell some stories from Portland at Cole and Weber and from a life long involvement in local advertising and being outdoors, Ducks Unlimited, his dogs, his family, children, grandchildren.
But gentle, friendly, bright and creative Harry is gone and he had way more trouble than any man should have and he bore it with grace and class and dignity and while he moved away and had other lives and continued to make great motion picture images, I know I am among many of his friends here who dearly miss him.
We’ll see you for lunch at the El Gaucho, someday. We’ll buy.
William E. Hoke Resume
Bill Hoke has been a daily newspaper reporter, copywriter, broadcast writer/producer, corporate and documentary film writer and producer, advertising agency creative director, business owner, marketing consultant, author, speaker and entrepreneur.
He began his career at the Royal Oak Michigan Daily Tribune as a police and general assignment reporter and then worked in the creative departments for a number of advertising agencies in Detroit, New York, Chicago, Minneapolis and Los Angeles. He worked on major national brands such as AT&T, Pontiac, Cadillac, 3M, Nissan, Boeing, American Express and many others.
Some of the advertising agencies he worked for include MacManus, John and Adams, N.W. Ayer & Son, Parker Advertising, DDB Needham, McCann Erickson, Evans Group, Lennen & Newell.
While his career has been largely spent in the creative end of the business, he has worked as an advertising agency production manager, public and news information director, voice talent, photographer and film producer. He was a principal of Graf Hanson Hoke advertising and later Graf-Hoke Medical Marketing, Inc., in Seattle.
Most recently, he has provided strategic marketing planning for clients in Kitsap County, including Kitsap Bank, Kitsap Regional Library, Olympic College, Harrison Hospital and KPS Health Plans. He has provided advertising services to hundreds of smaller clients, retail to service, manufacturing, travel and entertainment.
He assisted two local social service agencies in founding a new business model to provide employment opportunities for people with special needs. The enterprise, called Kitsap E-Z Earth, grows, packages and distributes vermicompost and related products to local businesses and consumers.
Speaking, Teaching and Publishing
Mr. Hoke is the author of Secrets From The Red Tool Box©. a marketing how-to book named ‘one of the 100 best business books’ by the University of Washington Sales Club. He is also the inventor of The 90 Minute Branding and Marketing Plan Workshops©.
A frequent speaker at business meetings, Bill and his wife, Patricia Graf-Hoke are now offering workshops for The 90 Minute Marketing Plan where businesses and non-profit organizations write a marketing plan using a special 24-page workbook.
He provides one to one consulting for new business starts-ups, marketing and sales counsel.
During his active involvement as a volunteer for the Kitsap Regional Economic Development Council, Bill taught dozens of classes in Starting Your Own Business, Marketing for the Small Business, Make Advertising Work For Your Business, How To Get Your Name in The Paper and classes for start-ups and emerging businesses.
He writes a monthly column for the 'Peninsula Business Journal' and frequently contributes to 'Marketing'.
He's lectured at the University of Washington, Whitman College, Washington State University, Western Washington University, Olympic College, Jefferson County Economic Development Council, Edmonds Community College and to Retired Service Academy Graduates.
He has provided breakfast, lunch and dinner speeches to Chambers of Commerce, Rotary and other service clubs, networking groups, home based business organizations and many, many others.
Bill’s involvement in the community has been extensive. He was marketing chair for the Kitsap United Way for five years, a member of the Kitsap Mental Health Foundation Board, served with the KitsapCares Partnership and North Kitsap Special Education Advisory Board. He worked with the Admiral Theater Foundation, Bremerton-Kitsap Health District. He served on the board of the Kitsap County Economic Development Council, is a volunteer mentor at Washington CASH, a micro credit program for economically disadvantaged women. In 2003, he was named CASH ‘Mentor Of The Year.’
Awards & Recognition
He has received numerous professional awards, Gold Medals from the Seattle Art Directors Club, a Cine Golden Eagle for ‘best international sports film’ for “A Day In The Life of Longacres.” His film, “Interruptions” was named ‘best film on rehabilitation’ in international competition.
He and his wife Patricia Graf-Hoke, a strategic marketing planner and photographer, have produced many public service advertising projects for the State of Washington, The Disability Planning Council, Governor’s Committee for Hiring the Handicapped, The Washington State Patrol and others. Their campaign for the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, “We Have A Talent For Work,” won every major northwest advertising award.
In 1999, he was named 'Citizen Volunteer of the Year' for Washington ARC.
Bill is an avid mountain climber and hiker and did field research for the Third Edition of the Olympic Mountains Trail Guide. He has hiked over 1,500 miles in the Olympic Mountains, mostly solo, and climbed in Washington State, Idaho and Montana. He is co-founder of the Altoid Climbing and Hiking Club headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland.
He attended Birmingham High School and graduated from The Gow School in South Wales, New York and Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.
The couple have four grown children and live in the Manette area of Bremerton, Washington, a one-hour ferry ride west of Seattle. Washington.
Working with Chuck Blore and Don Richmond with studios at 1606 North Argyle, Hollywood, more than once I watched Don Richmond the morning of a session, no scripts, and he would ask Selma to call five or six voices for a three o’clock session we all knew would begin at five and there would be a side conversation with the music director for Chuck Blore and then Chuck and Don would disappear into Chuck’s office with the Dutch door now fully closed and we would go to lunch alone. The Brown Derby was across the street and clients were always wowed by it and when we got back at two, the staff would be busy typing and sending scripts back and forth. We never got to see them until we got to the studio where Don would distribute scripts to the talent and someone might sing a jingle I had never heard before to music that seemed to come from no where and talent would come and go, reading lines, filling in blanks, Will Scott the World’s Greatest Engineer, somehow keeping track of takes, sometimes dozens of fragments, the big picture known only to Chuck and Don and in the early days we would be sent away to come back the next day to listen to what Will had cut together, most often a miracle. Later I got to sit in, start to finish and it was inspiring to hear all these great ideas, wonderful energy, accompanied by perfect sound effects and music often made to order.
The process unnerved me and I could never explain it to a client with me, telling them (and me) that this really would turn out a break-though radio commercial.
I worked with Chuck and Don when I was in Michigan, before coming to Seattle, and have today a great friendship with Chuck.
Later, years later, I was sometimes involved in Chuck and Don’s creative session for a client and I began to see their genius at making more great radio commercials than anyone ever did.
I loved radio advertising and working around Blore-Richmond are easily in my top ten memories. Top Five.