The obituary of Howard Zieff, the adman that created the memorable ad campaign for Levy's Jewish rye bread, made me realize that the adults that were producing what I was encountering as a teenager have been shuffling off for years now. Howard would have been in his 40s when he created the ads that would prove so memorable to people who saw them firsthand in that era.
Not only were the ads so memorable, they made me think of advertising as a career choice. I even bought a book on advertising that contained write ups of the campaigns, complete with the artwork and the photos that were used. It was almost like an advertising textbook, and right now I can't find it.
The Levy's ads were so well proportioned. The lettering was clear, nothing was cluttered, and they were funny. You have to wonder if the person would be around today who could produce something like that, with sensitivity such a pre-occupation that good-naturedness would be stifled.
Besides the ads themselves being so memorable, I remember where I saw them--along the subway wall exiting what was then called the BMT 14th street station, 16th street exit. I always used this exit after I made my flower deliveries. The family shop was on 18th Street and 3rd Avenue, and coming out at nearly 17th Street, on the west side of Union Square Park, was to me like using some secret passage. Great too, if it was raining.
There along the left side as you exited I could always count on seeing the latest Levy's ad. They always made me smile and wish I had done something that clever. To this day, even though the passageway looks different, is tiled better and has better lighting, whenever I go that way I think of the ads I saw there. Now that's a popular ad.
And there was one other ad that always seemed to be nearby. The ad for The New York Times. It was just as big a poster, ran horizontal rather than vertical, and always showed someone in an office, or executive position who was claiming that: "I got my job through the New York Times."
Newspapers once being a source of advertising, used to carry all the employment ads. So, the implication was if you looked in the Times you would find yourself in a well-paid job with an office, desk, window, view and maybe even a secretary. (I don't remember if women were depicted as well.)
I distinctly remember a kid in my high school home room that wagged that JFK should be in one of those ads, sitting behind his desk in the Oval Office. jacket, tie and that trademark haircut, in front of a few papers. After all, the Times endorsed him, and he did get the job.
Come to think of it, some of the people I grew up with might have gone on as adults and started working for Saturday Night Live. Everybody's got to come from somewhere.