"Actually I wouldn't mind it," says Azula.
"Well, the truth is my fiance didn't want to live with us," says Milkereit.
"Three's a crowd," mutters Azula.
Well, they remain bonded at the office, where their cheeky print production includes work for a local TV station, the North Carolina Zoo and an all-headline campaign for AAA Bail Bonding with snappy lines like, "We're there in minutes or your next meal is free," and "We'll get to you before your cellmates do." The idea, as you might expect, preceded the client. "We'd done the concepts, we just needed someone to make them legitimate," says Milkereit. The campaign took Best of Show at the '93 Charlotte Addys, which is "nice, but it's not the final goal for us," adds the ambitious copywriter.
Another all-type winner is, "Come to a sale where every appliance has been marked up: The Scratch and Dent sale. Now at the Duke Power Electronics Store." Art director Azula sometimes gets to show his graphic stuff, as in the Verbatim ad seen here, as well as the South Asian sex lesson, a college poster and their very
first assignment at LKM. "You can't scare them," says Azula of today's big men on campus, "so you might as well show them what they want to see anyway."
Azula, 27, grew up in Los Angeles, and prior to his date with destiny at the Portfolio Center he was a commercial art student at Kennesaw College in Georgia. Milkereit, born and raised in Chicago was a University of Kentucky advertising grad. They had worked together at the Portfolio Center often enough that their books were about one-third identical, but when they met LKM principal Jim Mountjoy at the school's graduate review, they had no great expectations of being hired as a team. Now they expect to expand their teamwork to TV, where so far, Mountjoy, a "nurturing boss," says Azula, has paired them with senior creatives-Milkereit on comedy spots for Levelor blinds and Shakespeare fishing tackle, Azula on a funny series for First Federal Bank of Charleston.
As for their personal relationship, Azula says "*'The 'Odd Couple' definitely comes to mind." It's not that one's a slob, he says, "but one's more laid-back, one's more anal." "I'm the anal one," Milkereit volunteers, "but at least I shower every day and I wear clean socks and have more than one pair of shoes."
"I also don't tuck my shirts in," confesses Azula.
MARC HAMMOND & MARC LUCUS
COPYWRITER MARC LUCAS AND ART DIRECTOR MICHAEL Hammond announced their
move to Ogilvy & Mather/New York last year with an audacious postcard. Underneath a huge "O&M+M" is the modest sentiment, "Welcome aboard, David."
The ease with which these 26 year olds land jobs doesn't exactly nurture humility; having worked at Hong Kong's The Ball Partnership, where they produced a Cannes finalist spot, Chiat/Day, and now O&M, "they're joined at the hip," says O&M CD Ross Sutherland. "I kind of agreed to hire Michael before I even met him." Indeed, after Lucas got his offer, Hammond just showed up for work.
Hammond, who grew up in a rural town in southern Australia, actually attended boarding school a half mile from the one that Lucas was shipped off to from his native Hong Kong, but they didn't actually meet until the University of Technology in Sydney where they were both studying for a visual communications degree and taking advertising classes at night. Lucas graduated first and wound up with a job at The Ball Partnership; in '89 Hammond joined him and for the next three years they shared an apartment and a cubicle, pitching BMW on their first assignment and producing about a campaign a week. In one spot, a funny low-budget :30 for Hewlett-Packard color copiers that made the short list at Cannes, they cast the agency's CFO as a drippy Chinese man who stands stiffly next to a copier and recites lines fed to him by an offcamera VO. "My life is dull and colorless," he repeats in a monotone. When a new, color copier arrives, he suddenly appears in a red satin robe, holding a color report, but he parrots the VO with a sadly lifeless, "My life is more colorful too."
Lucas later joined Chiat/Day in New York, and soon Hammond was working with him on Nynex and New York Life. But their Chiat stint turned into their most trying time, they say, blaming the wave of layoffs that hit the office and the fact that it was harder to sell work to clients in the States. "We were at each other's throats," Lucas recalls. They too were laid off, but were unem- ployed only a month before joining O&M, where they're working on Jaguar, Hershey's and Ryder. "We believe that advertising is something that everyone has to put up with," Lucas says. "So why not keep a sense of humor, keeping in mind who you're talking to."
They now feel at home at O&M, happy with CD Sutherland, a native New Zealander. "They're conspicuously good at cutting to the core of a brief," Sutherland says. As for learning how to deal with American clients, Sutherland says "they're like those people who show you around Disney World, who are as over-enthusiastic at 8:30 in the morning as they are at 5 in the afternoon."
PAULA DOMBROW & ANN LEMON
FREELANCE ART DIRECTOR ANN Lemon and copywriter Paula Dombrow both have blond hair, sweet dispositions and razor-sharp tenacity when it comes to producing work. "We always like to win," Dombrow says. "And if we're up against other people, we really like to win."
Once when they were at Chiat/Day/New York, where they first teamed in '89, they were vying to produce a Glenfiddich single malt scotch campaign. Their creative directors explained that, while they'd like them to work on it, it's really a man's product, so they thought they should have a male team, Lemon recalls. "So we learned how to drink scotch." In the process, they came up with an offbeat campaign that articulates the liquor's smoothness with incongruous photographs (a golfer putts on a pool table, a beautiful mare waits to be bathed and groomed in a bath tub on a marble courtyard) and clever passages of text that read like a socialite's diary.
An Indiana native with a degree from the University of Delaware, Lemon, 31, had already worked at Jim Johnston Advertising and Doyle Graf Mabley in New York before landing at Chiat as a senior AD. Dombrow, 32, was a Texan fresh out of the University of Texas in Austin and the School of Visual Arts in New York when she met Lemon. After two years at Chiat, working on accounts including Nynex and Reebok, Lemon left for Kirshenbaum & Bond. Dombrow was heartbroken. Thinking she was "never going to find an art director to work with again," she started freelancing, during which time she not only worked indirectly with Lemon at K&B, but also handled assignments at Weiss Whitten Stagliano, where she co-wrote the award-winning Apriori fashion print campaign, and the Colby Agency in Los Angeles, where she created an animated campaign for Home Base retail stores that won the business. After a short time in Los Angeles, she returned to New York last June in search of a partner for a Frankfurt Balkind project.
Lemon, meanwhile, had since left K&B, after rising to associate creative director and art directing award-winning ads for Charivari and Bamboo lingerie; in fact, she'd checked out of New York altogether, moving to Pennsylvania in '92 to take a break from advertising.
They've been crisscrossing Manhattan together ever since, creating campaigns (and beefing up pitches) at Ammirati & Puris and Y&R, where they just produced an international print campaign for AT&T and shot a spec spot with Steve Horn.
Their relationship, they point out, has outlasted Dombrow's five apartments and a fiancee and all of their boyfriends. "Now I have a dog and she has a fiancee," Dombrow jokes. And while they've flirted with the idea of opening their own agency, freelancing for now fits them fine. As a solo freelancer, "you get used as spackling a lot of the time" Lemon says, whereas teams more often get to start on fresh pitches or a campaign.
"After doing this single for a while it feels better doing it as a team," Dombrow adds. "You feel stronger, you're going in together and you have an ally."
JOHN BOLIER & GLENN COLE
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A TEAM AT WIEDEN & KENNEDY that's not known for its Nike commercials? For art director John Boiler and copywriter Glenn Cole, whose best-known collaboration is a stunning, sometimes clever and decidedly un-Nikelike print campaign for Oregon Tourism, it's an opportunity to show that the agency has "more than just a middle-finger voice," says the 23-year-old Cole.
Their copy-laden campaign includes several ads that rely mostly on stock photos of Oregon's breathtaking scenery and quiet messages along the lines of, "From the top of Mt. McLoughlin in Oregon a city would look pretty small (if you could see one)." Others for the state's Film & Video office, aimed at production companies, have a bit more bite: Take the one dubbed Oregon Script Idea No. 6, which reads, "Open on the coast of Scotland. Pan to Sigourney Weaver mohawked and saddled on a breaching whale. Using only a blowgun and a flare, she takes out every Russian whaling ship in the Atlantic ... It's eco-aliens with a 'Gorillas in the Mist' twist."
Partners for two years, both have worked on separate projects-Cole on ESPN spots with Chris Farley of "Saturday Night Live" and Niketown radio, and Boiler on Nike's Dennis Hopper football campaign. Cole says that he and Boiler consider the Tourism work a "great outlet from sports, because things can get kind of shoe-insane around here." "I also think it makes Dan [Wieden] happy to see other accounts flourishing," Cole adds, "especially this one, since he's a proud Oregonian."
Like their peers, Boiler and Cole seem to thrive in an atmosphere where Cole says creatives regularly try to "outweird" each other with their individual styles. Associate CD Larry Frey notes that, besides "running around in tights, sawed-off shorts and headbands," both are "wildly enthusiastic, in a vaguely destructive way." Their creative stamp is similarly unencumbered, and loosely described by Boiler as "pop culture combined with Shakespeare and Caravaggio." Boiler adds that he and Cole are "both freshened and simultaneously jaded by stuff that's been done before. We go from being totally wide-eyed to 'I hate this and have to leave.'"
Fat chance, especially since, back in '91, Boiler says he "threw himself" at creative director Susan Hoffman's feet in hopes of getting hired as a junior art director. Prior to joining the agency the Oregon native, a 1987 graduate of the University of Oregon's art school, worked on local bank accounts at a small Portland shop, Marx Knoll. Cole, who grew up in Philadelphia and studied journalism at the University of Oregon, was still writing his senior thesis when Wieden hired him as an intern in early 1992. He was given a copywriting position later that year, even though he says "my booked sucked. It must have been my energy."
While that energy will eventually dispel their lingering insecurities, both are anxious to see how the Tourism work will fare in the upcoming awards shows. "Sure, you can give us a Nike ad and we'll win an award with it," says Cole, "but give us a state-run organization with no money and lots of committees? If we can prove ourselves in this arena, it'll mean a lot."
JOHN LEU & JEFF WATZMAN
JOHN LEU AND JEFF WATZMAN NO SOONER ARRIVED IN early '93 at one of the funniest shops in America, New York's Cliff Freeman & Partners, than they were asked to submit some Little Caesars ideas, and, lo and behold, one was accepted and in production a month later. "It was, like, wow!" says copywriter Watzman. "What do you do for an encore?" The spot, titled "Nunzio," is your basic Hal Riney home and hearth shtick, with a Freemanesque twist: "We wanted to set up something familiar and then pull the rug out from under it and shock the hell out of everyone," says Watzman. So we see Nunzio, in the old country, lovingly preparing his "famous family feast," backed by a typical Riney-sincere VO, and as the grizzled patriarch lugs a cauldron of his bubbling creation to the family table, we get a series of literal sight gags from the guests. It seems Nunzio's feast is so repulsive even a fly zips away in horror. While a Little Caesars laugh-in may be difficult to top, the pair have since scored with two very funny spots for Sony's Image Soft videogames (see Creativity, January '94) and several droll regional radio spots for the now moribund Miller Clear beer. Currently the team's TV for Staples office supply stores is gearing up for production, and a TV/radio/print campaign is in the works for New York's Tenement Museum.
You'd think a Freeman team would be committed to comedy, but that is "absolutely not" the case, says art director Leu. As far as the shop being in a comedy pigeonhole, efforts are underway to "change that right now," he adds. "We're trying to broaden the agency reel a little bit." For example, the upcoming Staples work, says Watzman, won't be "like the usual Cliff Freeman. It's funny, but it's a different point of view. It's very simple."
Leu, 28, and Watzman, 27, met in the advertising program at Boston University, interned together at HHCC/Boston during college and were a college creative team. They talked about the possibility of joining an agency together, but doubted it would actually happen. Indeed, Leu started at Laurence Charles Free & Lawson, and joined Watzman at Freeman two years later, after Watzman had done time at BBDO/New York, where he "learned how much fun you can have with a jingle and a guy pushing a wheelchair through a sunset," he says with some bitterness, as well as a stint at Kirshenbaum & Bond. Watzman even left Freeman for a short visit to Deutsch Inc. before returning to his partnership with Leu. "I wanted a little more autonomy at the time," he says. "I just liked it better here, so I came back." During his absence, Leu had no official new partner, though most of the print he's produced at Freeman has been done with another art director anyway.
Now Watzman seems happy, and, in fact, they both profess love for the agency. Leu calls the culture "competitive but supportive. And Cliff believes you have to have a life outside the office." "He believes you have to have outside interests in order to grow creatively," adds Watzman. Their outside interests include a band, called Dad, for which the two guitarists are presently seeking a rhythm section. They seem equally pleased with their team dynamics: "When we work together the concepts usually come in the first few hours," says Leu. "It's not a struggle," adds Watzman. "If you're struggling, then you're working too hard. Advertising shouldn't be hard work, it should be fun. The day it becomes hard work is the day I'm out of it."
JOHN HEINSMA & PAUL HIRSCH
BY THE TIME ART DIRECTOR PAUL HIRSCH FLEW cross-country to interview for a job at Cole & Weber/Portland, copywriter John Heinsma, his prospective new partner (and former classmate at the Portfolio Center), had already been there for eight months. Heinsma, Hirsch remembers, was tan and relaxed, just back from a weekend ski trip to nearby Mt. Hood. Ah, life in the Pacific Northwest-that cinched the deal for the 27-year-old Chicago native and former Aspen ski bum.
Now this pair of avid skiers can not only indulge their schussing passions-the 30-year-old Heinsma spent part of an undergraduate term "studying" in Vail-but their self-described "caustic, wacky humor," has greatly contributed to C&W's growing creative reputation in Portland. Their work includes a quirky commercial for the Oregon Lottery in which a dopey drill-wielding mechanic fantasizes about the newfound wealth that will allow him to be a famous explorer, "just like Lewis and Clark." And irreverent newspaper ads for Dr. Martens include one that shows a peaceful London street under the headline: "Fewer British mail carriers go berserk. It must be the shoes."
Creative director Jim Carey admits that he normally steers the pair clear of more conservative clients, since "it's hard to get John and Paul to create something pious." For instance, Carey says a print ad they wrote headlined "The last time your mother's stomach was this full you were in it" didn't go down very well with a local hotel trying to promote its Mother's Day brunch.
What makes Heinsma and Hirsch tick as a team? "We try to make fun of other people rather than each other," says Heinsma, "and we try not to have too much of an ad-nerd focus on things." Aside from shops like Legas Delaney and campaigns like last year's award-winning Museum of Contemporary Art spots, the two don't pay much attention to what their peers are doing, especially those in their own backyard. "Our clients can't afford to show people dancing to a great soundtrack with just their logo at the end," explains Hirsch. Rather, he and Heinsma say their style leans more toward the witty, conceptual designs of C&W's sister office in Seattle.
Hirsch, whose father runs a small design firm in Chicago, studied advertising at the University of Illinois before going on to the Portfolio Center. A Georgia native, Heinsma was an English major at the University of Georgia; after waiting tables and writing bad jingles like "Everyone knows it's Wendy's" in hopes of being hired as a copywriter, he too checked into the Portfolio Center.
After two years at C&W, they like working at an agency "unencumbered by politics or committees," mostly because they're able to get a lot of work produced. They also occasionally get hate mail, like the angry letter accusing their lottery spot of positioning Lewis and Clark as "exploiters of the land." The two hope their Dr. Martens ads don't have the same effect. "All we need is some disgruntled mail carrier spraying our office with bullets," Hirsch says.
MATT CANZANO & STEVE ROMANENGHI
COPYWRITER STEVE ROMANENGHI WAS WATCHING "THE Late Show" one evening with his wife when David Letterman presented his top 10 reasons why the New York Mets were having such a crummy season. No. 5 was, "They all got brain freeze from drinking too many Slurpees," as the camera cut to actor Don Knotts sitting in the audience sucking a Slurpee. "I felt we had reached the pinnacle of pop culture, says Romanenghi, 31, who immediately called his partner at J. Walter Thompson/Chicago, art director Matt Canzano.
"Brain Freeze," the team's favorite spot, features a chubby mall brat who sips the frozen concoction while sitting beneath the bug zapper in the bleak wasteland of his suburban backyard. Suddenly he lets out a primal bellow, then turns to the camera and mutters, "Brain freeze." After the required product shots, we cut back to him as he studiously twitches his face, as if trying to restart his cortex. Another commercial, "Colored Tongues," shows a group of teens riding spring-loaded playground ponies on a verdant hilltop while wagging their Slurpee-stained tongues like preschoolers. The spots earned Romanenghi and Canzano a Silver at the 1993 New York Festivals.
Since the two were first paired in 1988 they've worked almost exclusively on the 7-Eleven business (in addition to some assignments for Clausen pickles and Kraft). As the 30-year-old Canzano put it, "We've spent years in a convenience store."
Besides Letterman, Canzano and Romanenghi are inspired by the dry humor of Monty Python and comics like Steve Wright. Like Wright, who, as Romanenghi notes, jokes about being a "peripheral visionary who sees things only from the sides," he claims that he and Canzano "aren't trying to smack people over the head with our humor. We try to let our audience fill in the blanks."
A Michigan native, Canzano attended Detroit's Center for Creative Studies in the mid-'80s, where he interned at JWT. He moved to Chicago to avoid having to work on "car stuff." Romanenghi grew up in Chicago and graduated from Cal State/Fullerton with a degree in communications. After a brief stint at Saatchi & Saatchi/Torrance, Romanenghi returned to Chicago and joined Lois USA in 1988, where he worked on such accounts as the local NBC affiliate before joining JWT in 1990.
While neither say they have plans to leave Chicago for one of advertising's more creative outposts, Romanenghi says his biggest fear is that "10 years from now we'll be these two old guys on sitting on bar stools saying to people, 'Remember us? We did 'Brain Freeze.'"
But Canzano is confident it'll never happen. "We're constantly reminded of the fact that there are people out there 10 times better than us," he says. "That's our biggest motivator."