50 WHO MADE TV'S LANDSCAPE HONED BY PIONEERS AND VISIONARIES

Published on .

ROONE ARLEDGE Now president of ABC News, he was a leading figure in TV sports beginning in the 1960s with his development of the network's "Wide World of Sports." He successfully negotiated with the NFL to launch ABC's long-running "Monday Night Football." In switching to news, he introduced "Nightline" with Ted Koppel, an alternative in late-night TV.

HOWARD BELL Early in his career with the National Association of Broadcasters, he helped draft the Television Code and the blueprint for what became the Television Bureau of Advertising. Appointed director of the NAB Code Authority in 1963, he went on to develop policies and procedures leading to the creation of the independent National Advertising Review Board and to serve as president of the American Advertising Federation.

WILLIAM BERNBACH A leader of the creative revolution, he was co-founder of Doyle Dane Bernbach. TV campaigns for Volkswagen, Alka-Seltzer and Avis are just some he had a hand in developing. He instituted the concept of pairing copywriters and art directors into creative teams, and employed some of the greatest ever-Phyllis Robinson and Bob Gage, Julian Koenig and Helmut Krone, to name just two. A gifted writer, he believed in persuasion and touching the basic, unchanging instincts of human beings. His vision of advertising was unlike that of any other person in the business before him or since.

THOMAS BURRELL Founder and chairman of one of the nation's largest minority-owned ad agencies, Burrell Communications; his work for Coca-Cola and McDonald's gained a reputation for being the first culturally sensitive images of African-Americans and won Clios in the 1970s and '80s. His client roster represented leading-edge examples of major marketers specifically targeting black consumers with ads created by blacks.

JOHNNY CARSON He has been proclaimed "the king of late-night television" in his role as the host of NBC's "The Tonight Show" for 30 years. The show made his second banana, Ed McMahon, one of the longest-standing and most popular ad pitchmen ever. At one point, it was estimated Carson's show brought in 17% of NBC's total revenues. He became one of TV's highest-paid personalities; by 1970 NBC was paying him more than $2 million annually to host the show.

PEGGY CHARREN Founder and former president of Action for Children's Television, a Boston-based watchdog group that lobbied to increase diversity and eliminate commercial abuses in children's TV-programming and advertising. A major accomplishment was the Federal Communications Commission ban on advertising messages from the hosts of children's programs.

LEE CLOW The longtime creative leader of the hot West Coast agency Chiat/Day (selected as Advertising Age's Agency of the Decade for the 1980s), he was the art director on the unique "1984" commercial for Apple Computer's Macintosh-its writer was Steve Hayden-that turned the NFL's Super Bowl game into an annual advertising event.

FAIRFAX CONE A co-founder of Foote, Cone & Belding, the successor of Lord & Thomas, he was one of the agency-side proponents of the "magazine concept" of broadcasting, in which the networks-not the advertisers-became the programmers and advertisers and agencies the buyers of time and makers of commercials. A true industry statesman, he possessed a great respect for the consumer and railed against spots that were intrusive, inane and insulting.

BILL COSBY One of the most successful entertainers of the last 30 years, he has played an amusing and endearing spokesman and friend of children in Jell-O commercials for more than 20 years. In addition to numerous other celebrity-endorsement roles in advertising, his "The Cosby Show" sitcom about an African-American family on NBC dominated the ratings for much of the '80s. With the show, network TV finally realized the potential of positive black imagery.

BEN DUFFY A proponent of "show the product and show it in use," he was a media executive with Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn who went on to serve as its president. A pioneer and visionary, he immediately understood TV's potential and changed his agency to become an industry player, staffing a 150-person TV department by 1950. He engineered Dwight Eisenhower's pioneering TV presidential campaign in 1952.

PHIL DUSENBERRY Now vice-chairman of BBDO Worldwide, he long served as its creative leader while personally making highly visible lifestyle-"user image"-advertising for Pepsi-Cola and General Electric ("We bring good things to life"). He's known to get deeply into virtually every step of the commercial-making procedure. He wrote the screenplay for the movie "The Natural" and helped create the film imagery for President Reagan's re-election bid in 1984.

ALVIN EICOFF An originator of the use of TV for direct selling of products and services, he transferred an expertise built on radio and, in 1949, created the first long-form TV commercials with "pitchmen" for Arizona and Florida land and moved to record clubs and magazine subscriptions. AT&T consulted with Mr. Eicoff in its development of the 800 number. His A. Eicoff & Co. direct-response agency, which he still serves as chairman, is now owned by Ogilvy & Mather.

LOIS GERACI ERNST The founder of ad agency Advertising to Women; her creative direction is credited with the "independent female" movement in TV commercials best illustrated by such sexy campaigns as "Take charge of your life" for Jean Nate and "It's going to be an Aviance night" for that perfume. She once said it took men years "to figure out that women aren't polishing their floors anymore."

STEVE FRANKFURT As one of the first art directors specializing in television, he helped found Young & Rubicam's art department in 1955 and in that role nurtured the development of agency art directors as commercials directors, including the noted Bob Giraldi. Mr. Frankfurt became Y&R creative director at 26 and president by 35 and is credited with numerous later campaigns for famous motion pictures.

STAN FREBERG Known for his work as a satirist and comedian, he has been called the father of the funny commercial-outrageous might be a better word. He created quirky TV campaigns for Sunsweet Prunes, Chun King Chinese foods and Jeno's pizza rolls, among others, starting his ad career in the 1950s and continuing it periodically to the present.

ARTHUR GODFREY Known as one of TV's most successful personalities; his unique style-recognizable largely by his voice-made him a master commercial pitchman. He made his mark with his own highly rated TV show, "Talent Scouts"; he hosted two weekly prime-time series on CBS as well as a daily radio show. It was reported that he was responsible for $150 million in ad billings on CBS in 1959. His trademarks were a ukulele and the chucklesome greeting, "Howa'ya, Howa'ya, Howa'ya."

LEONARD GOLDENSON The top officer of ABC beginning in 1953, he steered the fledgling network (spun off of NBC) through shaky financial times until it established secure footing with the other two. He helped Capital Cities Communications acquire ABC in 1986 for $3.5 billion, then retired.

J.C. HALL The founder of Hallmark Cards was the guiding force for TV's longest-running dramatic series, the "Hallmark Hall of Fame," still solely sponsored by the company. It bowed on Christmas Eve, 1951, with a presentation of "Amahl and the Night Visitors," and has always served to showcase some of the very best in TV advertising-for many years the work of Foote, Cone & Belding. Mr. Hall once said: "We didn't set out to get the largest audience .*.*. we wanted the best."

ED HERLIHY As the "voice of Kraft," the actor and announcer helped build such brands as Velveeta, Cheez Whiz and Miracle Whip as much as anyone through his rich food descriptions and detailed recipe ideas and cooking instructions. He started with the first production of "Kraft Television Theater" in May 1947 and lasted through every major Kraft show and product commercial for 40 years.

STEVE KARMAN One of advertising's most successful music men, he's the composer of the renowned "I Love New York" anthem; "When you say Budweiser, you've said it all"; and the early Beneficial Finance "Toot, toot." His belief is that the name should be worked into the song once every five seconds, within simple harmonies that rarely outperform the voice.

REVA KORDA The copywriter who became creative head of Ogilvy & Mather as it entered the 1970s, she's said to have come up with the percolator idea for the famous Maxwell House spot that lasted from 1960 to the present (with a hiatus). She championed the "real people" campaigns considered a hallmark of O&M's TV efforts, and insisted through "the Korda commandment" that each commercial "talk to one person," much the way founder David Ogilvy's long-copy print advertising did.

BOB KEESHAN The man behind Clarabell the clown on TV's pioneering children's program, "The Howdy Doody Show," he went on to create and star in "Captain Kangaroo," a daily show that was to run on CBS-TV for 24 fun-filled years.

MIKE KOELKER Executive creative director of Foote, Cone & Belding's San Francisco office; the originality of the TV work he brought to fruition literally changed the look of contemporary advertising-notably commercials for Levi's 501 jeans and Levi's for Women.

LEONARD LAVIN Chairman of Alberto-Culver Co., he led the charge to get two products advertised in one 60-second commercial and saw the 30-second spot become the standard in the early 1970s. He did it by "piggybacking," bringing a message for a related Alberto hair product into the commercial for another. A decade or so later, he pushed for "split 30s," two separate product commercials in one 30-second unit. This led to the birth of 10- and 15-second spots.

MARY WELLS LAWRENCE A talented copywriter who went on to become the first female founder of a major ad agency, Wells, Rich, Greene. Its birth in 1966 fell right into the middle of the creative revolution and resulted in such campaigns as the "end of the plain plane" for Braniff Airways, when she persuaded the airline to repaint planes in pastels. She worked for Doyle Dane Bernbach and Jack Tinker & Partners prior to starting her agency, and is also credited, with her two partners, Dick Rich and Stewart Greene, for some classic Alka-Seltzer commercials.

MAX LIEBMAN The producer of the groundbreaking TV program "Your Show of Shows," he was virtually handed NBC's Saturday night schedule to fill by Pat Weaver because of his skills in producing acts in the Catskills resort area. Mr. Liebman brought the talents of Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner and Howard Morris to the air, and the show's runaway success enabled Mr. Weaver to sell short segments of time to multiple sponsors.

DON McGANNON The longtime head of Group W was a major force behind the enactment of the 1970 Prime Time Access Rule, in which the Federal Communications Commission removed six hours per week of prime time from the Big 3 networks and gave them to the stations, creating the big syndicated TV market. He fought against network dominance on other important issues as well.

MARSHALL McLUHAN A professor at the University of Toronto, he wrote several books including "Understanding the Media: Extensions of Man." The phrase, "The medium is the message," summarized his position that the means by which humans communicate have always determined their actions, and predicted that mass media-particularly television-was shrinking the world into a global village.

NEWTON MINOW Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission in the Kennedy administration from 1961 to 1963, he etched his place in TV history when he called the state of programming a "vast wasteland." He said he would not abide a "squandering of the public airwaves," and blasted "the concentration of power in the hands of the networks." He's also a former chairman of the Public Broadcasting System.

HOWARD MORGENS Chief executive of Procter & Gamble Co., the nation's-and TV's-largest advertiser, from 1957 to 1974, he spent the 1940s in P&G's ad department and pushed the company into TV as early as 1941, with experimental programs. Elected VP-advertising in 1948, he was instrumental in the formation of P&G Productions, which would go on to produce numerous long-running daytime soap operas and other fare.

A.C. NIELSEN SR. Having founded the company bearing his name in 1923, he made contributions to the field of marketing and media research that carry on to the present. He built the largest TV audience measurement company in the world, the first to reach into the public's homes to determine what they were watching. He developed the term "cost per thousand," the most effective measurement of the performance of a program.

ROBERT NOEL He's the personification of a body of work that became synonymous with Leo Burnett Co. in the TV era-campaigns built on an enduring array of cartoon "critters" and cuddly creatures whose selling power was in their charm, not their persuasiveness. After joining Burnett in January 1956, he either created or contributed to the TV personas of the Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger, the Keebler Elves, Charlie the Tuna and Morris the Cat.

NORMAN B. NORMAN The leader of Norman, Craig & Kummel who sold "The $64,000 Question" to client Revlon and to CBS in the mid-1950s. Its success led to as many as 20 TV quiz shows before scandal (involving "Twenty One" contestants being supplied answers) brought about the completion of TV's shift from show sponsorship/ownership to network control of programming and time. His agency brought to TV such famous campaigns as the "House of Ajax" for Colgate-Palmolive and "Let Hertz Put You in the Driver's Seat."

WILLIAM PALEY His involvement with broadcasting began in 1928 when he purchased the floundering Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting Co., a radio network with 16 affiliates, for $300,000. He renamed it Columbia Broadcasting System and built it into that industry's leader before, reluctantly, taking on TV. In a late '40s coup, he raided rival NBC for some of its biggest stars: Jack Benny, Amos 'n' Andy, Red Skelton, Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy and Frank Sinatra.

FREDERICK PIERCE The leader of ABC during its surge to popularity in the 1970s, he was a former accountant largely credited with spearheading the concept of buying TV shows by the demographic makeup of their audiences rather than by sheer number of homes. One of his great coups was the hiring of programmer Fred Silverman away from CBS, and he went on to steer the network into early ventures such as cable networks ESPN and Arts & Entertainment.

ROBERT PITTMAN Now president-CEO of Time Warner Enterprises, he's known as being a father of cable TV's MTV: Music Television network, which he directed at age 26. Launched in 1981 by what was then Warmer Amex Satellite Entertainment, it created the music video industry, which in turn greatly influenced a whole new generation of TV commercials targeting the young. He also helped develop cable's Nickelodeon children's network.

ROBERT PITOFSKY As chief of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection (and later a commissioner), he led the fight against some of TV advertising's most serious problems in the late 1960s and '70s: complaints about deceptive practices. His efforts did much to reform product demonstrations in commercials, and he went on to push into acceptance "comparative" advertising, in which rival brands could be named.

SHIRLEY POLYKOFF The talented copywriter who at Foote, Cone & Belding made Clairol hair coloring socially acceptable with her campaign themed, "Does She or Doesn't She? Only Her Hairdresser Knows for Sure." The Advertising Hall of Famer went on to open Shirley Polykoff Advertising.

JOE PYTKA His working-class roots and documentary background don't begin to explain his success; he's become the master of the American TV commercial. He's most versatile, a virtuoso in humor, emotion, cinematography, lighting, editing and music; and endows vignettes with body, soul and spirit.

ROSSER REEVES As the creative leader of Ted Bates & Co. in the early days of TV, he's the father of the Unique Selling Proposition, the controversial approach to hard-sell advertising. He believed the most effective campaigns were ones that held relentlessly to a particular theme, such as Anacin's "Fast, fast, fast relief." In 1952, he introduced the TV spot to presidential politics when he wrote commercials for Dwight Eisenhower's presidential campaign.

HAL RINEY The head of Ogilvy & Mather's San Francisco office until he bought it in 1986, renaming it Hal Riney & Partners. His TV commercials are noted for a low-key, warm, folksy style. Among his more famous works are campaigns for Crocker Bank; Blitz-Weinhard Brewery; E.&J. Gallo Winery; and General Motors' Saturn automobile. His mellifluous voiceover in some of his spots has been widely imitated. "His TV commercials are in a class by themselves, and I don't know of anyone who disagrees with that," said David Ogilvy about Riney.

DAVID SARNOFF As creator of the NBC network, Sarnoff is one of the pioneers in the development of the broadcasting industry. He began his career as a wireless operator; it's believed he received the first distress signal from the sinking Titanic in 1912. Later, he rose through the ranks of the Radio Corporation of America to become chairman. He organized the TV network in the 1940s to build a market for RCA television receivers.

JOE SEDELMAIER Director of some of TV's best-known and most honored commercials, almost all humorous. Noted for his casting of unusual-looking people, he created Wendy's "Where's the Beef?" Federal Express' fast-talker spot, General Motors Acceptance Corp. and Southern Airlines and Alaska Airlines' spoofs of flights from hell.

HENRY SIEGEL He's the man who built Lexington Broadcast Services into the nation's largest barter sydnicator, and thus defined that segment of the TV ad business. He began with the variety show "Sha Na Na" in 1977 and sold barter time on that show during a six-year run. By 1980, LBS was generating more than $100 million in sales.

RAYMOND SPECTER The over-the-counter cosmetics king who ran Hazel Bishop turned the company's entire advertising budget into TV as early as 1950. As a result, Hazel Bishop sales are said to have topped $4.5 million after just two years, from $50,000. He fought the networks hard over sponsorship issues-as did Colgate-Palmolive chief Edward Little-and in 1955 pulled his ad spending from the medium in protest over rising costs.

FRANK STANTON Former president of CBS, he not only helped build the company with William Paley but became one of broadcasting's most important statesmen and an effective witness before Congress. He was a staunch, vocal defender of First Amendment rights for the industry.

TED TURNER One of the most influential and colorful individuals in TV, he largely created the cable TV network with his WTBS "superstation" and CNN (Cable News Network). CNN was launched in 1980 despite his lack of news experience and a skeptical outlook from critics who said a 24-hour news network wouldn't last. He later acquired the MGM film library and started the TNT cable network, and also bought TV cartoon producer Hanna-Barbera.

PAT WEAVER As head of the NBC-TV network in the early 1950s-after stints on Madison Avenue with Young & Rubicam-he created the desk-and-sofa TV talk show format with "Today" and "The Tonight Show." But his greatest influence was to change the way TV programs are produced and owned, when his history-making memo outlined the "magazine concept" of selling time to several sponsors within a show. Therein lay a revolution in network TV, moving the proprietorship of shows from the advertisers and their ad agencies to the networks.

REV. DONALD WILDMON A Methodist minister who gave up his church in 1977 to organize the National Federation for Decency, he led a full-fledged campaign to rid TV of what he felt was gratuitous sex and violence content. He also formed the group Christian Leaders for Responsible Television and currently leads the American Family Association, based in Tupelo, Miss. He has asked his followers, many of whom are churchgoers in the South and Midwest, to boycott major TV advertisers and has influenced a number to stop advertising on certain shows or episodes of shows.

HOWARD ZIEFF More than any director, he was the soul of humor in advertising in the 1960s and '70s. The creative revolution wouldn't have been so revolutionary without his hilarious commercial productions for Alka-Seltzer, Volkswagen, Benson & Hedges and many others. His influence still is felt today.

In this article:
Most Popular