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Nobody's Perfect: Bill Bernbach and the Golden Age of Advertising [Paperback]

Doris Willens
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

6 May 2009
The inside story of the legendary advertising agency, Doyle Dane Bernbach, and its founder, Bill Bernbach, as told by the former public relations director of DDB

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (6 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442135263
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442135260
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 408,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Doris Willens is a former journalist (Minneapolis Tribune, New York Journal-American, Washington Post), who served as PR head of Doyle Dane Bernbach for 18 years. She is also a playwright and lyricist.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOBODYS PERFECT WILL BERNBACH... 11 May 2011
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Notch Investigative Reporting...A Riveting Story 1 July 2009
By An ex-DDBer born too late to experience the heady years of the '50's and '60's but a lucky loser who landed at DDB in its '70's renaissance years. - Published on
Ms. Willens not publishing this manuscript would have been like Bill Bernbach not plucking the crumpled, discarded Avis headline, "We're only Number 2. So we try harder," from Helmut Krone's garbage can. We would have been without the incredible story of the greatest ascension and most heartbreaking decline in advertising history.
If you're a student of advertising, a business school MBA, a fledgling reporter or a seasoned investigative journalist, an ex-DDBer or an Omnicom employee, you should read this book. If you've ever taken a Polaroid picture, downed a shot of Chivas, poured Heinz ketchup on your burger, taken your VW Beetle down the shore, or rented from Avis because you knew they tried harder, you're gonna love this book!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Emperor Has Some Clothes 9 July 2009
By Edward D. Brown - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Nobody's Perfect: Bill Bernbach and the Golden Age of AdvertisingDoris Willens' work is an intensely muscular and rewarding arm chair adventure. First her insider's book separates the Bernbach reputation for over-the-horizon advertising from the fact (others created most of the better known breakthroughs). Then the compelling narrative details how Bill Bernbach led the "creative revolution". For four years in the 1960's my office was only feet away from his and I couldn't help but overhear many of his critiques with art directors, copy writers and account men: "Good but not great...this concept is artful enough but take more time to communicate reward for the consumer...wonderful, keep it up."

Given its early Bohemian working conditions to keep its lower-paid people comfortable and productive, the ad agency's soaring profits attracted Wall Street and when quarterly earnings became a public concern, "We can make even more money" was the watchword. No surprise that good people left to start their own agencies for recognition as well as rewards.

Conflict breeds drama and first there was plenty of it between account executives who insisted on the clients'
dictates and the creatives who often fought back. Then Wall Street squeezed more profit to grow share prices.
That led to not only personality clashes but management-style rifts.

Through it all, the public was treated to more attention-getting, less annoying, even entertaining messages which
caused them to notice, become product-curious and more inclined to purchase.

Advertising reaches everyone of us so many times everyday. "Nobody's Perfect", tells much of how it became the way it is. And you won't put it down.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate in ``Corporate Insider" Journalism 30 May 2009
By Fred Danzig - Published on
There's more to this `golden age' history of Madison Avenue's legendary Doyle Dane Bernbach ad agency than meets the eye.
What we really have the pleasure of discovering in ``Nobody's Perfect" is (a) a rich, detailed insider's history of Madison Avenue's most influential advertising agency; (b) the ways in which Bill Bernbach and his accidental partners, Ned Doyle and Mac Dane, managed, and at times mismanaged, their agency's explosive --and fabled --years of growth, (c) the strengths and, yes, the limitations of Bill Bernbach's creative DNA, and (d) the boardroom --and bar-room -- decisions -- good, bad, and jaw-droppingly disastrous -- that doomed the agency's future and gave advertising its historic ``Big Bang" merger in 1986.
Ms. Willens' vivid narrative transcends the ``Madison Avenue" genre in that it spreads to Wall Street, Paris, London and, along the way, delivers to our 21st century executive suite honchos --those who pay attention -- something akin to an MBA education. Ignore the corporate miscues -- including ghastly chain-of-command blunders -- only if prepared to endanger one's entire company -- employees, profits, growth, shareholders-- The Works.
Throughout this immensely engaging narrative, Ms. Willens -- a veteran newspaper reporter who went on to direct DDB's public and corporate public relations during its ``golden age" -- also takes us through unprecedented, new frontier-creative work, including VW's ``Think Small," the Avis ``We Try Harder" campaign, Ohrbach's, Levy's Jewish rye bread, :the star-studded Polaroid campaign, Alka-Seltzer, American Airlines--awesome work that launched Madison Avenue's ``creative revolution" and changed advertising forever.
The fast-moving narrative is filled with lively, ``off-camera" anecdotes about DDB's visionaries, their egos and the squabbles that ultimately divided them. Five stars? Make it Six.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story telling 15 Jun 2009
By Ex Happy DDBer - Published on
Nobody's Perfect: Bill Bernbach and the Golden Age of Advertising

Review of "Nobody's Perfect- Bill Bernbach and the Golden Age of Advertising" by Doris Willens

I loved this book. I'm biased; I worked at Doyle Dane Bernbach. My wife never reads nonfiction, but she loved this book. She's biased, but only by association. If you like Biographies, read Nobody's Perfect. You get two great stories: The story of Bill Bernbach, an advertising genius: and Doyle Dane Bernbach, the agency that brought about the creative revolution and the Golden Age of Advertising. Doris Willens, writes these stories with insight and accuracy. With her skills honed by years in Journalism and Public Relations she combines fact and deep intuitive understanding into stories that my wife says "read like an exciting historical novel."

Doris Willens opens wide on Bill Bernbach: his wonder and awe, his foibles and warts. She often emphasizes the latter But she sums up the man this way: the "..measure of the impact of the man and his philosophy on advertising everywhere. The man who launched the creative revolution; the man who changed the face of advertising; who brought pride and joy to the business, who altered the power structure of the industry, who elevated advertising to an art."

What happened to DDB? Bill Bernbach always said you have to be nice and talented to work here. After Bernbach died too many of the nice people left the agency. The burning torch became a cold ember

If you like biographies you should read this book. If you have been, are, or aspire to advertising, copy writing, art direction, TV commercial production, marketing, media, research, account or brand management, corporate management, financial management, international operations (did I leave anyone out?) you should read this book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've been a friend of DDB people for some 30 years. 4 July 2009
By Julio Cosi Jr. - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was myself a trainee at Doyle Dane Bernbach in 1961. This book is very interesting. It talks about people I've met personnaly. I am a Brazilian adman, I,ve started working for an ad agency in 1947 when I was 15 years old. From 18 to 22 I got a Law Degree, but advertising was my passion, not advocacy.
The book tell about the the Golden Years of Advertising with Ohrbach's, Volkswagen and Avis Rent a-car and El Al Israel Airlines and Levi's jewish rye. And the book tells about Advertising God himself: Bill Bernbach. Not only his best but also the other side of his personnality.
Whoever likes great advertising must read "Nobody's Perfect" -- by the way the same headline of a Volkswagen outdoor poster showing a VW sedan with a flat tire. The headline was 'Nobody's Perfect.'
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