DDB Chairman Emeritus Keith Reinhard on Advertising at Its Best and a Path for the Future (Video)

By Legends & Leadership Archives
Cover image for  article: DDB Chairman Emeritus Keith Reinhard on Advertising at Its Best and a Path for the Future (Video)

John Wooden, legendary coach of UCLA basketball, said, "Those who fail to prepare are preparing to fail." I opened my Legends & Leaders Conversation with Keith Reinhard, Chairman Emeritus of DDB (Doyle Dane Bernbach) by reminding him of our first meeting at a Retail Advertising Conference event in Chicago in February 1979. I recalled how incredibly prepared he was to speak to CMOs from America's leading retailers, which elicited from Keith his commitment to spending an hour preparing for every minute he was on stage. It's a strong piece of advice in a business world in which the average time spent by professionals, across all industries, preparing for meetings is 15-minutes.

Keith's view of an ad agency business he joined as a junior copywriter without a college degree and with a small art portfolio is informed by his upbringing in the Mennonite community of Berne, Indiana, without television but with strong values. His stories and experiences as a true creative genius responsible for writing some of advertising's most memorable and successful commercials (Like a Good Neighbor …; You Deserve a Break Today …; Two all-Beef Patties …) provide all those who are working in and considering advertising careers with required preparation for the future.

Just a few of the many topics Keith and I cover in our conversation are:

  • The role of consultants and data in the advertising business;
  • The re-integration of media and creative, which Keith was instrumental in unbundling as an architect of the merger of DDB, BBDO and Needham Harper, creating Omnicom;
  • The importance of early radio and sponsored radio programs to his early view of advertising;
  • How Joe McCarthy's anti-Communist movement prevented him from attending art school;
  • How he disagrees with Sir Martin Sorrell;
  • What is "conquest selling," which he learned from his grandfather, a Ford salesman.

Keith also shares the wisdom of Bill Bernbach, the brilliant creative genius and founder of DDB. Again, they offer valuable preparation for all those in the business today and the future.

"There's nothing like an insight into human nature and the obsessive drives that drive human beings," he says. "The drive to succeed; the drive to survive; the drive to belong; the drive to be loved. As long as human beings are our targets and not robots, those things apply maybe more than ever. Find that human drive and how you can reach out and touch it with your product.

"Those of us who use the mass media are the shapers of society," he explains. "We can use that responsibility to brutalize, to vulgarize that society. Or to lift it to a higher level. I always thought if we could do advertising that lifts sales, spirits and society at the same time, then we're at our best."

Go here for my full Legends & Leaders Conversation with Keith Reinhard.

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