A CLASS ACT

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If you're in advertising and you collect class acts, you probably already know about Joel Raphaelson.

He is an Ogilvy & Mather creative guy in Chicago and in addition to holding some of the top jobs and doing a lot of the top writing, for many years as a sort of sideline, Joel has visited David Ogilvy on a regular basis at his chateau in France and come back to report on the great man's thinking. He has also edited a very slick and literate in-house publication called Viewpoint, which with its December issue now goes out of existence after 17 years.

And Mr. Raphaelson gallops off into retirement.

In this final issue of the O&M magazine, Chairman Charlotte Beers writes:

"We must mark the end of an era by thanking Joel Raphaelson for his time and devotion, editorial acumen and objective point of view. As the guiding heart of Viewpoint, Joel kept us honest. He resisted attempts to turn it into an Ogilvy cheering section. And with First Amendment zeal, he fended off efforts to tone down controversial points of view. Strong opinions have a bite. Mild opinions are mush. Joel preferred steak."

I've known Joel since 1950 when he was just out of Harvard and writing ad copy for Jim Breslov at Macy's New York and I guess I've seen him gnawing at a steak or two and we've surely shared a cocktail. So, startled by this news of his retirement (intimations of my own mortality?) and curious to read Joel's final words, I turned to Joel's page (resisting the temptation to head for something entitled, "Things I did wrong," by chairman emeritus of Ogilvy, Jock Elliott).

There was the familiar Raphaelson grin, broad-mouthed and toothy, and the factual info that he'd been with the agency for 36 years and some good stuff about David Ogilvy and about Joel's belief in networks and in mass markets and in Kodak and Gillette razor blades and in Tylenol. But then it gets interesting and really "Joelesque," and I can almost hear his cultivated Oxbridge stammer.

"In the mid-1950s a copywriter named Jim Jordan and I were colleagues at BBDO. At a lunch years later, when Jim was running the entire BBDO creative department and I was running a good bit of Ogilvy & Mather's, we discovered that we'd both been making $8,800 a year at BBDO after about five years on the job.

"I then asked Jim two questions. First, had he been satisfied with his pay at the time? He said yes, he thought he'd been doing just great-and I said that I'd felt the same. My second questions was this: would anybody in the creative department he was now in charge of be content with the pay and the raises that had so pleased us, allowing of course for inflation?

"Without a second's hesitation Jim said, `No, nobody.' And I said it was the same at my agency.

"This inflation of expectations-what we in advertising think we're worth, and how big and how fast we expect our raises-has led to discontent among people who, by any normal standard, should be thrilled with their success. Isn't it too bad that a creative director in her 40s, paid more than a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, feels grumpy when she gets her paycheck?"

Which sounds like Joel, the use of a plainspoken word like "grumpy."

I can't recall what Joel was paid at Macy's in 1950. I got $40 a week. Pete Oldham, who was out of Yale, may have made a little more. Bunny Wells, who had great legs and short, dark hair and who got there in 1952 or so, surely made more and then started being known as "Mary Wells." And after a while Mr. Breslov raised me to fifty a week and I considered my fortune had been made.

How silly we all were, how easily satisfied, how we were taken advantage of.

Odd, but I don't remember feeling that way, only how delighted I was to be out of college and actually being paid for putting words down on paper. Even if they weren't the newspaper stories I wanted to write and only headlines and blocks of copy for mattresses and unpainted furniture and knickknacks from Miss Gneiser's Gift Shoppe. We all had girl friends and second-hand cars and drank beer at Clarke's and huge, cheap meat sandwiches at Shine's and went to the fights at the Garden Friday nights and sat way up high for a couple of bucks or went over to Abe Attell's place and watched Pep and Sandy Saddler on a black & white Dumont and listened to Mr. Attell himself talk about how it had been to fight Benny Leonard and how Stanley Ketchel was shot by a jealous husband.

I went in the Marine Corps after that but came back to Macy's and worked there for another year writing copy before getting a reporting job at the newspapers. So I never had the career in advertising Joel had. But I remembered our beginnings. And how his old man was the dramatist and playwright Samson Raphaelson and they had a place in Bucks County and Joel had us all agog one Monday by telling how Lena Horne had stayed with them over the weekend and all the talk was of a Broadway project Mr. Raphaelson had in mind, a re-telling of the story of Solomon & Sheba. With Lena Horne as Sheba and Rex Harrison as King Solomon.

Wow!

And later my daughters went to the same school with Kate Raphaelson and eventually Joel and his wife moved to Chicago, which for curious reasons he seemed to like enormously, and when I was working for Rupert Murdoch editing his fine supermarket tabloid, the Star, I was unexpectedly in a position to buy stories of the Hollywood of old from the great Samson Raphaelson, and to have a lunch with him occasionally and over a refreshment or two, to hear tales of Lena Horne and of other legendary figures.

And now Samson's son Joel is retiring and Mr. Ogilvy lives abroad and men like Jock Elliott are "emeritus" and no one makes enough money.

Which were the best of times? Which the worst ...?

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