Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Borrow an Ad Memory or Two about Armstrong and BBDO.

Such a charming reminiscence came out of The New York Times this week. Ad columnist Stuart Elliot offered a response from an older reader about the “proper” pronunciation of his agency’s name:

When I worked at BBDO, from June 1951 to March 1954, nobody in the agency called it anything other than “BBDO.” The switchboard operators who answered phone calls always answered in a very stylized, “This ... izz ... BBDO!” Outside the agency it was usually called, I guess, “BBD and O.”

One account I worked on was Armstrong Cork. I used to take the Pennsy to Lancaster at least twice a month. Everybody at Armstrong called the agency “Batten’s,” because Armstrong had been a client of the Batten Company for many years before Batten’s merger with Durstine, Osborn & Barton in 1928, which then morphed into Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn.

Elliott thanks the reader and answered:

Although “the Pennsy” – the Pennsylvania Railroad – is no longer chugging, Armstrong, now Armstrong World Industries, is a client of BBDO’s to this day.

Now perhaps it is lazy of me to make a post out of an existing story line, especially one featured in Elliott’s column. Armstrong has been a BBDO client for at least 58 years. I couldn’t track down the exact number (although I bet someone in New York knows it). I couldn’t honestly tell you that Armstrong doesn’t use other agencies of all sizes and shapes, either.

It is always fashionable to feature the medium-of-the-moment and fawn over the edgiest boutique. That is the nature of the new. But I point out that really long-time account retention is not only possible but continuously rewarding for all parts of the client-agency relationship. Frankly, it’s heartening right now to observe this kind of thing. I’m an alumnus of BBDO (though more recently than the early ’50s); I hope it’s true that great shops never die.

Whoever said “nostalgia isn’t what it used to be?”

Thank you for the 1952 Armstrong Flooring ad from Retro Renovation, which notes that the “neutral grey works just fine with the orange and chartreuse paint.”

1 comment:

Susan Kirkland said...

One bit of nostalgia I'm enjoying are the remastered DVDs of "Burke's Law" which include vintage advertising from the early sixties. Like your Armstrong ad, old TV ads are horrible, horrible things to see. We have come such a long way due to design and tech.