Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sandwich IV: “You Don’t Have to Be Jewish to Love Levy’s Real Jewish Rye.”

The world’s greatest sandwich ingredient promotion started in 1960 with just a couple-three ads and some subway posters. The Levy’s Real Jewish Rye campaign was created* by Bill Bernbach of DDB.

Among any group of thoughtful advertising people today, Bernbach is one of our industry’s greats. But everyone has to make a start somewhere. In the beginning of DDB, the little Yiddische bakery in Brooklyn known as Henry S Levy and Sons could get Bernbach for a $40,000 budget. DDB worked for Levy’s for years before giving birth to the “You don’t have to be Jewish” ad campaign, which used photos of people of different ethnicities and cultures enjoying the Jewish rye. The shooter was Howard Zieff.

In one interview, Zeif said, “We wanted normal-looking people, not blond, perfectly proportioned models…I saw the Indian on the street; he was an engineer for the New York Central. The Chinese guy worked in a restaurant near my Midtown Manhattan office. And the kid we found in Harlem. They all had great faces, interesting faces, expressive faces.”

Bernbach, Zieff and DDB were the creators – the 50-years-ago architects – of today’s Hellman’s® ads and Nature’s Pride™ ads and Oscar Mayer ads. Those Zieff photos with their humorous connectivity to real people were fresh in the ‘60s. The copycats don’t have much to say for themselves that’s innovative.

Bernbach has gone to the great deli in the sky. The Levy’s brand (no longer very good according to one review) is now submerged in George Weston Limited. And I have shorthanded a remarkable advertising story.

The Levy's campaign is great sandwich advertising by a great advertising agency. That’s my last word on the subject. But I’ll leave the capper to Jiffynotes:

“Levy’s had its competitors, but their names were largely lost to history simply because none of the competing bakeries in Brooklyn hired ad agencies that immortalized them.”

*The Mirror Makers credits DDB copywriter Judy Protas and art director Bill Taubin for the actual campaign creative (page 254). I will too.


Richard Laurence Baron said...

I couldn't resist this story, from Barry Popik's blog, The Big Apple:

"Bernbach also changed the company's name from Levy's Real Rye to Levy's Real Jewish Rye. Though at first Rubin (the then-current Levy's owner) objected to the name change for the anti-semitic clash, Bernbach once again persuaded him by saying, 'For God's sake, your name is Levy's. They are not going to mistake you for high Episcopalian.'" (Levenson, 1987).

Brian Bearden said...

Are you eating enough? This is your 4th blog post that is food related.

Since all 4 food related blog posts are about foods you eat with your hands. Readers should read your June 15th blog on hand cleaning to be safe.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Thanx, Brian - I think we both know that "eating enough" is not a problem for me. Good advice about the hand-cleaning, though, since eating a sandwich is such a hands-on job.