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.”