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Nobody's Perfect: Bill Bernbach and the Golden Age of Advertising Paperback – May 6, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Doris Willens is a former journalist (Minneapolis Tribune, New York Journal-American, Washington Post), who served as PR head of Doyle Dane Bernbach for 18 years. She is also a playwright and lyricist.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1st edition (May 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442135263
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442135260
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #705,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book is very interesting.
Julio Cosi Jr.
We would have been without the incredible story of the greatest ascension and most heartbreaking decline in advertising history.
An ex-DDBer born too late to experience the heady years of the '50's and '60's but a lucky loser who landed at DDB in its '70's renaissance years.
Bill Bernbach always said you have to be nice and talented to work here.
Ex Happy DDBer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ms. Willens not publishing this manuscript would have been like Bill Bernbach not plucking the crumpled, discarded Avis headline, "We're only Number 2. So we try harder," from Helmut Krone's garbage can. We would have been without the incredible story of the greatest ascension and most heartbreaking decline in advertising history.
If you're a student of advertising, a business school MBA, a fledgling reporter or a seasoned investigative journalist, an ex-DDBer or an Omnicom employee, you should read this book. If you've ever taken a Polaroid picture, downed a shot of Chivas, poured Heinz ketchup on your burger, taken your VW Beetle down the shore, or rented from Avis because you knew they tried harder, you're gonna love this book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ex Happy DDBer on June 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
Nobody's Perfect: Bill Bernbach and the Golden Age of Advertising

Review of "Nobody's Perfect- Bill Bernbach and the Golden Age of Advertising" by Doris Willens

I loved this book. I'm biased; I worked at Doyle Dane Bernbach. My wife never reads nonfiction, but she loved this book. She's biased, but only by association. If you like Biographies, read Nobody's Perfect. You get two great stories: The story of Bill Bernbach, an advertising genius: and Doyle Dane Bernbach, the agency that brought about the creative revolution and the Golden Age of Advertising. Doris Willens, writes these stories with insight and accuracy. With her skills honed by years in Journalism and Public Relations she combines fact and deep intuitive understanding into stories that my wife says "read like an exciting historical novel."

Doris Willens opens wide on Bill Bernbach: his wonder and awe, his foibles and warts. She often emphasizes the latter But she sums up the man this way: the "..measure of the impact of the man and his philosophy on advertising everywhere. The man who launched the creative revolution; the man who changed the face of advertising; who brought pride and joy to the business, who altered the power structure of the industry, who elevated advertising to an art."

What happened to DDB? Bill Bernbach always said you have to be nice and talented to work here. After Bernbach died too many of the nice people left the agency. The burning torch became a cold ember

If you like biographies you should read this book. If you have been, are, or aspire to advertising, copy writing, art direction, TV commercial production, marketing, media, research, account or brand management, corporate management, financial management, international operations (did I leave anyone out?) you should read this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Fred Danzig on May 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
There's more to this `golden age' history of Madison Avenue's legendary Doyle Dane Bernbach ad agency than meets the eye.
What we really have the pleasure of discovering in ``Nobody's Perfect" is (a) a rich, detailed insider's history of Madison Avenue's most influential advertising agency; (b) the ways in which Bill Bernbach and his accidental partners, Ned Doyle and Mac Dane, managed, and at times mismanaged, their agency's explosive --and fabled --years of growth, (c) the strengths and, yes, the limitations of Bill Bernbach's creative DNA, and (d) the boardroom --and bar-room -- decisions -- good, bad, and jaw-droppingly disastrous -- that doomed the agency's future and gave advertising its historic ``Big Bang" merger in 1986.
Ms. Willens' vivid narrative transcends the ``Madison Avenue" genre in that it spreads to Wall Street, Paris, London and, along the way, delivers to our 21st century executive suite honchos --those who pay attention -- something akin to an MBA education. Ignore the corporate miscues -- including ghastly chain-of-command blunders -- only if prepared to endanger one's entire company -- employees, profits, growth, shareholders-- The Works.
Throughout this immensely engaging narrative, Ms. Willens -- a veteran newspaper reporter who went on to direct DDB's public and corporate public relations during its ``golden age" -- also takes us through unprecedented, new frontier-creative work, including VW's ``Think Small," the Avis ``We Try Harder" campaign, Ohrbach's, Levy's Jewish rye bread, :the star-studded Polaroid campaign, Alka-Seltzer, American Airlines--awesome work that launched Madison Avenue's ``creative revolution" and changed advertising forever.
The fast-moving narrative is filled with lively, ``off-camera" anecdotes about DDB's visionaries, their egos and the squabbles that ultimately divided them. Five stars? Make it Six.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Edward D. Brown on July 9, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nobody's Perfect: Bill Bernbach and the Golden Age of AdvertisingDoris Willens' work is an intensely muscular and rewarding arm chair adventure. First her insider's book separates the Bernbach reputation for over-the-horizon advertising from the fact (others created most of the better known breakthroughs). Then the compelling narrative details how Bill Bernbach led the "creative revolution". For four years in the 1960's my office was only feet away from his and I couldn't help but overhear many of his critiques with art directors, copy writers and account men: "Good but not great...this concept is artful enough but take more time to communicate reward for the consumer...wonderful, keep it up."

Given its early Bohemian working conditions to keep its lower-paid people comfortable and productive, the ad agency's soaring profits attracted Wall Street and when quarterly earnings became a public concern, "We can make even more money" was the watchword. No surprise that good people left to start their own agencies for recognition as well as rewards.

Conflict breeds drama and first there was plenty of it between account executives who insisted on the clients'
dictates and the creatives who often fought back. Then Wall Street squeezed more profit to grow share prices.
That led to not only personality clashes but management-style rifts.

Through it all, the public was treated to more attention-getting, less annoying, even entertaining messages which
caused them to notice, become product-curious and more inclined to purchase.

Advertising reaches everyone of us so many times everyday. "Nobody's Perfect", tells much of how it became the way it is. And you won't put it down.
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