Dad was promoted to a vice president at KVPD in 1968, an occasion I remember as very exciting to me at age twelve. A vice president! That sounded so important! I recall Dad telling me at the time though that it was not something I should go bragging about to my friends. He thought that kind of behavior was something to be avoided--a good lesson for me to learn.
Is it plausible that someone with a humble background like Don Draper could really rise to such prominence at an important agency? That sure wouldn’t happen today, but things were different in the 1960s. My dad always felt bad that he didn’t get to go to college, but his intelligence and writing skills made that no obstacle to his success. Those talents were what got him into advertising in the first place (at GE Medical), and it was hard work and skill that landed him at the agency and brought him great success over the years to come.
Blog, I just had to laugh during one episode of “Mad Men,” when they referred to “the Kimberly Clark account.” In fact my dad had the Kimberly Clark Papers account (meaning stationery and printing papers)! Perhaps his coolest project ever was an award-winning campaign involving the creation of a book about that famed tourist attraction, the House on the Rock. The book was designed to show off various types of Kimberly Clark papers. Dad interviewed HOTR creator Alex Jordan and wrote the copy. It turned out to be an amazing little book, back when HOTR was amazing and still little.
Master Lock is most famous for its “Tough Under Fire” campaign, which continued for many years and predated my dad. He worked on this campaign with Master’s agency, Cramer-Krasselt. That of course entailed working on the renowned series of Super Bowl ads that showed a lock being shot with a gun and still refusing to open. In 1989, a 30 second spot cost $675,000. But as Dad told a Milwaukee Journal reporter that year, “You aren’t buying 30 seconds, you’re buying 76 million people.” (In 2010, make that $3 million and 90+ million viewers.)
One of the most interesting times Dad ever had was when he was involved with the production of a 15 second TV commercial for Master’s “Tough Stripes,” lock, a high-tech bike lock introduced in 1987. He got to work both with models painted black and yellow and with a live tiger, as you see in these awesome photos, Blog! For 15 seconds of footage it took a day’s shoot in Toronto and two days of production time in Chicago.
Dad retired in 1991 but for several years afterwards had a small freelance advertising business. It’s in the blood, what can I say? Today I do in-house marketing in a position a bit like his at Master Lock, his granddaughter Katie does production art and internet interactive work at Cramer-Krasselt (yep, the same Cramer-Krasselt!), and his other granddaughter Amanda works in ecommerce at Kohls corporate.
Oh, and Dad’s a very passionate fan of “Mad Men.”
A big happy birthday to my awesome father, Russell A. Bauer! Want to send birthday wishes to a real 1960s Ad Man? Put your comments below...he’s also a big fan of this blog. :-)