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Backer & Spielvogel Employees Reunite for a Night

Reunion Attracts 200+ Alumni, Spawns Social Networking Site

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Founding fathers. Spielvogel (in glasses) and Backer are on the right.
Founding fathers. Spielvogel (in glasses) and Backer are on the right.
Backer & Spielvogel was not only one of the hottest shops of the early 1980s, it also proved to be one of the hottest agency reunions last night. What started out as five or six guys sitting around and playing with the idea of gathering a handful of Backer alumni in New York turned into a party with over 200 RSVPs. Not only that, BackerReunion.com turned into a social networking site with over 400 members featuring not only member profiles, but photos and video of interviews and old work. If nothing else, the site's worth a look for all of the awesome '80s hair. Former Backer employee Jackie Saril, who's now principal at Squeakywheel Promotions, joked "The '80s were kind to no one."

Pretty impressive considering this ain't exactly the MySpace generation.

A brief history: Backer & Spielvogel was formed by Carl Spielvogel and Bill Backer, along with Bob Lenz, Bob Holmen, Bob Meury and Steve Leff in 1979. Backer, by the way, co-wrote "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" for Coca-Cola. The agency made its debut without a single client. It became one of the fastest-growing shops in agency history on the backs of clients such as Miller Brewing, Wendy's, Campbell's Soup and Fischer-Price. The agency helped created the light beer category with the "Tastes Great, Less Filling" campaign for Miller Lite. It also introduced Dave Thomas to the world. The industry being what it is, Backer & Spielvogel was bought by Saatchi & Saatchi in 1986, then became Backer Spielvogel Bates in August of 1987. BSB became Bates and Bates became, well, non-existent.

Reunion Organizers: (From l.) Peter Meluso, Ed Dintrone, Steve O'Neill, John Gates
Reunion Organizers: (From l.) Peter Meluso, Ed Dintrone, Steve O'Neill, John Gates Credit: Frank Farina
But you may recognize some of the names of former Backer employees: Charlie Rutman, CEO of MPG, Kim Kadlec, CMO of Johnson & Johnson, Horizon Media's Brad Adgate and Mastercard Media VP Michael Lao. The alumni behind the reunion and the site included Ed Dintrone and Peter Meluso of Acquaint Interactive, John Gates of Precision Media Analytics and Steve O'Neill of Funnel Networks.

The reunion and website were so successful that Carl Spielvogel, during a speech, asked former employees to submit even more photos and memories for a book he offered to helm.

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