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Since I spent 30 years in the advertising agency business-20 at Interpublic as vice chairman and 10 at Backer Spielvogel Bates Worldwide as chairman and CEO-many people have asked me how I started in advertising. The truth is, I did not start in advertising. I started in journalism.

In 1958, as a young reporter at The New York Times, I was approached by Jack Forrest, then financial news editor of the paper, with a simple question: "What do you know about advertising?"

Having taken three courses in advertising and marketing in college, I of course responded: "I'm an expert."

He said, "Good. Today is Wednesday. You will start writing the first bylined column on advertising and marketing in The New York Times on Monday."

I panicked, stammered and asked: "Since my days off are Thursday and Friday, can I also take Saturday and Sunday off to get ready?"

On that Thursday morning at 9 a.m. I checked into the main reading room of the New York Public Library on 42nd Street and literally emerged four days later, Sunday at 9 p.m., having read everything I could get my hands on about advertising. The following Monday I started the column, which ran six days a week.

Two years later, Marion Harper, the then-legendary chair-man of McCann-Erickson World-wide, invited me to join McCann, and the rest is history.

Carl Spielvogel has been a major figure in New York advertising circles since the 1950s, when he was advertising columnist for The New York Times. He later served as an executive with the Interpublic Group of Companies and Backer Spielvogel Bates Worldwide. He currently is chairman and CEO of United Auto

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