This FAQ page also doubles as a sort of “Newsletter” for people from the past with whom I’ve tried to remain in contact. Many of the FAQs here have actually been FAQs over several… even many years in some instances. I jokingly call some of these FAQs my “greatest hits“. They are questions that don’t go away, and just seem to trigger curiosity on an ongoing basis.
To returning readers… I know… the old website was much bigger… I’m working on it, please be patient. All of your long-standing interest and support of these topics is greatly appreciated. In many cases, your interest enables me to keep this all going; both from a business perspective and “spirit-wise“… I’ve commented more than once that maybe I should have let this go away quite sometime ago. But I heard, “Don’t you dare!… enough that I was persuaded to rethink it. It’s extremely gratifying to know and hear there are people out there who find this interesting and relevant… some even say addictive. And, I think the best part is… we’re just getting re-started. If you have something new to ask, the email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the purpose of this website and telling my stories, I’ve divided my experience and expertise into two eras. The first era was my days in the ad agency business. I got my start at the tail end of the “Mad Men” era… although there were plenty of remnants and survivors of the age still around… it was hard to actually know that anything in the business was ending or changing.
My second era can be defined more or less by the emergence of the personal computer and the digital world. I was able to use my experience and skills from the Mad Men era to segue into this newer internet world. Fortunately for me, there was a substantial crossover and overlap between the two eras.
I was viewed by many of my website viewers, and some in the media, as an “authority” on self-promotion and opportunity seeking for the average computer user in the digital age’s wild, wild west… and also as a knowledgeable promoter and marketer of women’s glamour images on the internet.
Questions… in no particular order… here’s the first…
Q. Were you anything like a “Don Draper” kind of a guy?
A: Not even close. Actor Jon Hamm as “Don Draper” is a 100X better looking than me… and they say he’s a pretty good dancer too. In my “Mad Man” days, I probably drank as much as ol’ Don, but I was never a smoker of anything.
Ed. Note: Please note that the next question below is not what we typically address in this FAQ.
Q. I read that you know about this kind of thing. I’m in the UK and I’m looking to start my own subscription website. I would be charging the equal to 19.95 to 24.95 U.S. dollars per month. I have almost been a Page 3 girl, but for the time I turned the offer down. Whilst I mull over my design and theme, can you answer a couple of questions and impart whatever advice you can offer?
A: I used to be an Adman, Mad Man. Now, I’m doling out advice to a new generation of pin-up girls. My best guess is my association with a beautiful Playboy model has earned me this new rep. I get so many questions like this, and this is really not what I want to be doing. But, I will help you.
First, please understand I have absolutely no issues with girls who aggressively pursue this kind of exposure for themselves. Afterall, I do have a very dear friend who got herself into Playboy a few years back. My issue is with “men” who push their girlfriends/wives into assuming the chances and risks that come with this adult approach to money and fame.
I’ve been getting dragged into this sensational line of work and Net activity frequently enough that some people see me as someone who really knows what they’re talking about. First, I’m going to assume you’re of legal age to be doing any kind of modeling at all… you should be at least 18 to legally sign a model release. You didn’t say, but I’m also going to assume this is some type of adult modeling.
There’s a lot of downside to this already. I’m not going to get too much inside the “should I or shouldn’t I?” dynamic of this issue. I’m going to try to be a little more practical with the topic. As I’ve said this is not the first time I’ve addressed this in the FAQ of this website… old or new version.
There are probably many, many more girls willing to do this than you might imagine. So, there’s plenty of competition. And, competition tends to drive down the value and cost of goods and products. I assume most girls have some semblance of self-respect and worth. This is a quick way to throw it all away. And, you’ll be doing so for a lot less money than you’re probably counting on… the product is a glut on the market.
Unless you might be known or famous, you might actually lose money on your efforts. Even those girls who are somehow famous often get stiffed on the big bucks they’re sure they’re going to make. They may do well in the short run, but they always lose control of their photo and/or video distribution.
Their beautiful bodies will inevitably be displayed amply in free circulation all over the dark side of the Net. My guess is there are more pirates out there than there are models. Images can be copied very quickly and easily. And, criminals don’t care about copyright laws.
Then, there’s the pressure to keep producing new content. Content that’s eventually going to get stolen and become worthless. It’s a vicious cycle I’ve seen played out several times. Plus, your images could be around for a very, very long time. I don’t think you want anything like this to be haunting you twenty years from now.
Have I helped at all?
Q. You’ve stated several times that “image” was everything at Ketchum. Would you elaborate? If I’m correct, this will be helpful to a lot of ad people.
A: I think you’re right, thanks for the question. Just consider that Ketchum was a very big player who was located in a not-so-big market. When you think of the “cream of the crop” in the talent pool, I’m sure Pittsburgh is not first on anyone’s list for producing top talent of all kinds relative to what an advertising agency relies on for stellar success.
On all levels, it was competing with the legendary big boys in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles… BBD&O, J. Walter Thompson and Olgivy & Mather… to name just a few. And here was Ketchum… risking some of their success on an extremely average guy like me.
And believe me, I can’t tell you how average I was. When I started at Ketchum, I had ad management experience, but no previous ad agency experience. And yet, I was starting as a full-fledged Account Executive… with special privileges to boot because I had a creative background. Plus, I had the likes of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the one and only, Fred Rogers as former employers.
So, that was all good stuff. I was proud of what I had going for me. But, what was I going to do to at Ketchum to make it there. I knew how important “image” was… afterall, Kaufmann’s hired Ketchum on the basis of Ketchum’s image in the marketplace, and they expected their image would be improved measurably as a result.
It only made sense that the guy who was going to create, manage and coordinate all of this image building should be brimming with image of his own. But, as I said, I was only an average guy from Pittsburgh… what image could I have? What “mojo” could I put out there?
The way I saw it… the only “image” I could throw out there was NOT exactly mine. Sure, I got as far as getting into Ketchum, so I must have “something”…. And, that something I believed was how I chose what I liked, what I admired, what I thought was cool and what I wanted to be.
Growing up in Pittsburgh… the “cool” guys I saw and “knew” were in the movies, on TV, on the radio and in magazines. They were strong, male, role models who got it all done in spectacular fashion usually. They did everything well and rarely if ever failed to get what they wanted.
Based on their always being celebrated winners… my heroes were Sean Connery as James Bond; Frank Sinatra singing Bossa Nova with Antonio Carlos Jobim; and Steve McQueen driving just about any kind of car. Yeah, I know… it’s a weird grouping.
I thought Sean Connery was the epitome of cool and class. Growing up, he was someone who was fun to emulate. I copied his style and demeanor. He was smooth and suave; always knew what to say and do. He always won big. He was a little rough on the ladies at times, but I figured if they could forgive him, so could I. Besides, a few of “his women” were bad girls. Watch as movie audiences meet Sean Connery as James Bond…
As far as Sinatra was concerned… his records were always playing on my parent’s HiFi. I saw him four times in live concerts at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. So, while I probably should have been listening to the Rolling Stones or The Four Tops… for me, Sinatra and Jobim doing Bossa Nova was cool without an expiration date. It was intelligent music with great sentiment spiked by meaningful lyrics and lush instrumentations.
It was this classic and smooth jazz that inspired lively and vivid images of beautiful, bikini-clad women on tropical, sunny beaches. The soothing sounds and sway of their music was enough to brighten any gray day I was just only surviving in Pittsburgh… and there were many such Pittsburgh days that needed surviving.
Back then, most guys of all ages were into cars as both “toys” and objects of desire. I should have been into “muscle” cars like most of my friends. But, my all time, favorite car was the British Jaguar XKE.
Steve McQueen had one and he was frequently photographed with it. He elegantly drove the hell out of that beautiful car, and always looked super cool doing so. I had a Jaguar similar to the one in the pic… stolen in downtown Pittsburgh when I was about to leave Ketchum. I still very much miss that car.
Mad Men are not and can not be celebrities except in their own minds… and some of them are. But, they’re actually more like working stiffs who have little chance of projecting anything novel, unique or worthwhile… unless they get creative… and be someone they’re not naturally or authentically.
I never imagined myself as James Bond. I just admired Sean Connery’s cool and class. I am not anything like a suave saloon singer. I just liked Sinatra and Jobim’s rich, but understated approach to musical stylings. And, McQueen always acted like he couldn’t give two hoots about what anyone thought of him.
I knew it was absolutely essential to impress and be relevant, but at the same time I was likely to say… if you don’t like what you see… just look away, because I don’t give a damn.
That’s how I went about building my “image”… my brand… and my approach… to success and winning. Has it worked?… it’s how I’ve paid my way in the world for quite a few years. I got along.
Q. What’s the deal with the “hands and cuff links” pic?
A. I made the big mistake of using my own, actual, photo (full facial nudity) on my first website. I’ll never do that again. From here out, you’ll never see me people. And, I’m just a dumb guy. I can only imagine what a pretty girl experiences when she’s identifiable and displayed on a website. True, there could be people out there who have plenty of reasons to hate me or insult me, but I didn’t think merely being on a website would be that trigger.
About the “cuff links” pic… the “uniform” or official regalia for being a Ketchum Account Executive in good standing was a three-piece suit, shirts with French cuffs and a color-coordinated pocket square. Women had their uniforms too (quite sexy and classy). Ketchum was well known… actually quite famous in the business for its well-dressed AEs.
Being “dressy” and GQ-like was sort of fun for awhile. It’s the first way you impress people and develop your brand. These days, I still try to look good. But, I don’t need to impress anyone anymore, and I’m not likely to try.
Q. It seems to me you entered and survived in the ad business because of your creative work. I’m a rookie girl copywriter. What was your approach to getting the ball rolling creatively? It’s very hard work in my opinion.
I will definitely give you that it’s tough; especially getting started. Why do you think some went mad? You have to be in search of inspiration all the time. I looked for inspiration everywhere, and when I grabbed onto what seemed like a good idea; it eventually hit me like a lightning bolt. But, it can be an agonizing and long process.
I had the great privilege of working with Lauren Hutton several years ago on an image campaign for a major department store in Pittsburgh. We swept the ad awards that year for our TV, radio and magazine/print campaign. All of my creatives were based on a a very memorable (in my opinion) scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” starring Grace Kelly and James Stewart.
“When I want a man, I want all of you.” – Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont – It was the mood, her soft and seductive passion, the sensuality of Grace Kelly that moved me and gave me something to shoot for… I had always been attracted to Grace through her mid-1950’s movies. I was a fan. Her beauty and elegance were timeless. I am still of the opinion to this day in 2021 that her performance in “Rear Window” produced some of the sexiest moments ever filmed. And, I want no arguments here… I’m saying as one of the world’s foremost authorities on feminine beauty (just kidding)… Grace Kelly was the all time most beautiful woman in the world. Here’s the clip… turn up your volume and pay attention to Grace.
Her soothing voice… her feathery, light, butterfly kisses… her incessant lips… her soft moans… twenty years after its filming… I could easily imagine the softness of those luscious lips and the warmth of her breath. It was scrumptious and highly erotic. It was masterful acting and filmmaking and I wanted to capture a little chunk of it in my television commercials.
Getting the clip was no easy feat. We didn’t have YouTube in those days. It cost me a hundred phone calls and a lot of money donated to the American Film Institute to get Grace’s kissing show to my creative team and Lauren. By the time we all watched the clip dozens of times… everybody was very on board with the concept.
I told Lauren I wasn’t asking, nor did I expect her to imitate Grace Kelly in any way. This was simple inspiration… whatever you do, make it your own. I know you will be wonderful… and she was even better than that.
We had a really crack creative team headed by the legendary Anne McFadden. Yes, you read that right, THE Anne McFadden. I will write at length about Annie a little later. She made sure I got what I wanted. She was especially tuned into our collaborations. I was very lucky and really got the best from her.
Q. Are you still active in marketing communications and/or the internet? Who are some of your clients?
A. I still pursue challenges that I find gratifying to work. I’m not formally involved in client relationships where clients pay a fee. In fact, I don’t do anything that could be described as “formal”. I’m a simple guy that always goes casual. I guess you could say most, if not all, of my work is pro bono these days. I’m open and interested in joint ventures. But, essentially I only do work that I truly want to do, and where I have a really keen interest in making a contribution that genuinely helps and matters. Sorry, I don’t reference or identify “clients” or allies as I guarantee them privacy and confidentiality.
Q. My girlfriend is really beautiful. I think she could easily get into Playboy. How can I help her?
A. Did she actually ask for the help? Because, otherwise, you sound something like a pimp to me. Seriously man, if this is not her fantasy too, why would you want to do that to her? I think that’s kind of sacred stuff. I know of girls who have developed serious emotional issues because they gave it up for the amusement and titillation of everybody on the planet.
She gives you an incredible gift everytime she just shows up… her time and attention. Be really grateful for that gift. Believe me, there will be a day when you may not be able to take her for granted. If I had a “really beautiful” girlfriend, I’d be in church everyday giving thanks to God and the Patron Saint of “Beautiful, Loving and Special Women” for answering my prayers. I would not push my best girl to Playboy or into any other “adult” destination…. I would say odds are against it ending well for either one of you. Treat her well for who she is, not for making her into something she’s not.
Having said that, people who read my stuff seem to think I had something to do with my wonderful friend, Dian Parkinson, showing up in Playboy… not once, but twice. Very incorrect. I knew about her second appearance in advance. Can’t say that about the first, and it totally blew me up. But, that’s another, whole other story.
I have no connections at all with Playboy. I had nothing at all to do with Dian being in Playboy. While I did have a Chicago-based Playboy Talent Developer on my account team at Ketchum, she would not have been instrumental in signing Dian for a Playboy appearance.
I met Dian on a jet plane flying across Canada. We were both working PR gigs. She was appearing at a series of special car shows. I was working on a gig for publication in National Geographic. We were both in First Class and we sat beside one other. We struck up a fast friendship that has lasted many wonderful years. Over the early years, we managed to create a few opportunities of our own design to work together. And fortunately, they came through. We still frequently exchange emails, but I have not seen her in several years. I am very grateful for knowing her and having her for a very close friend. I love her, deeply care about her and respect everything she does.
Q. Do you have any updates on the “I just haven’t met you yet” story. I know it’s been around for awhile, but I found it very interesting and romantic.
A: Thanks for asking about this popular piece… you’re right about the story having been around awhile. Interest in this story surges from time-to-time. It was one of the more popular points of interest on my old website. It seems to be back again, so we’ll repost it for those who aren’t familiar with it.
The players in this little drama are my friends, Bert & Barz and the very popular Italian singer from Canada, Michael Buble’. This story is almost paranormal in scope. I won’t prolong the mystery of it except to say that as far as I’m concerned, it’s all a super coincidence. I believe that too much time passed between writing my words and lyrics and the emergence of it in the talented Mr. Buble’s musical playlist. I also believe this is his most viewed music video.
To get in on this story from the start, you need to follow the link below. It will take you to the page I call.. “Notes to Barz”. This page documents my first telling of what was a private story for me and how I related it to my friends, Bert & Barz. Here’s the link, it’s opens a new page.
Q. Did you work at other agencies besides Ketchum? How many, and if it’s “a lot” is that typical for being in the business?
A: I worked at 6 different agencies in Pittsburgh over a period of more than 10 years. Ketchum was my first. I owned my own agency the last 6 years I was in the business. As I’ve said a few times, it’s a very difficult business to stay employed in… especially in a small to medium sized market like Pittsburgh. I might be more of an “extreme” case than a typical one in terms of numbers of employers.
Q. I saw you years ago in Orlando, Florida doing a speaking engagement with the incredible team of “Bert & Barz”. And, then again about a year later doing the same. You guys were fantastic and hilarious together. What ever happened to your speaking appearances?
A. Thank you kindly for resurrecting those memories. They represent some of the best and most fulfilling times of my life. I was lucky to be allied with those two geniuses, and funny thing… initially, it was an alliance that was never planned. It kind of happened spontaneously.
For those of you who don’t really know the Bert & Barz team, Bert was the very talented, Bert Berdis (Carol Burnett Show, Tim Conway Show). And, Barz was the wonderful and prolific, Allan “Barz” Barzman (The ChickenMan Radio Ranch). They were Hollywood-based writers who would freelance ideas wherever they could to make a buck… they doctored movie scripts and screenplays, sitcom TV scripts and advertising campaigns. As award-winning copywriters and broadcast producers, they brilliantly created what some critics and pundits credibly call the greatest ad campaign ever… “The Energizer Bunny”.
I met them at a gathering of advertising creatives where the three of us were chosen to share the speakers’ roster. I was the lightweight of the group. We were buddies at first sight. We shared a chemistry that was pretty amazing; besides Bert was born and raised in Pittsburgh like me. So, we had that in common. I was a good bit younger than they… I was “the kid”, but we just always enjoyed the best times together… so much magnificent fun.
Although I received “Rock Star” treatment wherever we appeared together, they were the true stars and the real draws to our “shows”. These two guys were amazing and incredibly generous in that they gave me billing at their events and appearances. We did about a dozen appearances together.
They did something for me that they really had no reason to do. I look back at that era and feel so incredibly honored. I was the geographically-undesirable member of the group; being in Pittsburgh while Bert & Barz were West Coast operators.
We all shared an interest in working together beyond the speaking appearances. So, they would write scripts they’d try to sell… mostly radio bits… and perform them for me over the phone. Then, it was… “well, what da ya think?… you got anything we can add?” Can you imagine being the recipient of personal and private Bert & Barz shows and being invited to play?
I asked them once what I did to deserve a role with “The Dynamic Duo”, and they simply said “you’re a decent guy and we’re decent guys, and there are too few of us in this crazy business… we need to stick together.”
Very, very unfortunately, I have to end this with the incredibly sad news that our great buddy, Barz, passed away in late 2020. I really, really miss him… and Bert… I haven’t seen Bert in a few years. RIP, Bunny Guy.
Q. Would you want your children to follow you into the advertising agency business and what advice would you give them if they did?
A: First, I have no children… never saw it as a good thing for me to do for a number of thoughtful reasons. That attitude may be the perversion of being a Mad Man. I don’t know. Stability and security are not hallmarks of being in the ad business.
I don’t want to get into preaching one way or the other about getting into advertising; especially in a summary sort of statement. The best I can offer is the suggestion to read this website and draw your own conclusions.
Q. What are your thoughts on how the Internet has changed advertising? How do you use it?
A. Flattered that you’re asking the question. The Internet certainly brought a lot of ease, speed and convenience with it… and that’s an amazing and valuable accomplishment. What I’m still not sure about is… if it’s made quality-of-life better. If you don’t have a lot of life experience before the internet, this answer probably doesn’t make much sense to you.
I don’t really use internet “paid” advertising that much. When I do use it, I research it like I do with everything else that costs money. As I’ve said before… I’m a simple guy.
Q. I have an amazing hot babe GF with a killer bod. She’s very open-minded. I think she could make millions if she took off her clothes online… like for cam shows and nude websites… am I right?
A. No. But thanks for the pic. She’s totally gorgeous. I’m wondering what she’s doing with you. I’ll bet you’re a millennial, or a Gen-X or Gen-Y or some other kind of “Gen” something. I really feel sorry for girls of those age groups or generations… the 20-something girls of the last generations. I swear… these girls and women… are being treated worse than the women of before. Guys of those demographics seem to have no qualms at all about mistreating and using girls for whatever the pleasure or prank of the hour is. You millennial, generation-whatever guys don’t come anywhere near appreciating what you have. But again, this is a whole other story.
Seriously, your “babe” is truly beautiful and quite special-looking. Congratulations! But, there’s no such thing as guarantees of huge money on the Nudie Net… no matter how spectacular she is. I recently posted an answer to a similar question regarding my friend, Dian Parkinson and her Playboy pictorials.
Dian is absolutely breathtaking. I’m not exaggerating when I say very few of her pics do her justice. She has to be seen up close and in person. I am one lucky jerk/halfwit to have sat close beside her for more than 4-heavenly hours on a comfortable and plush airplane… and during most of that time… quietly enjoyed the soft touch of her hand on mine. It was paradise at 30,000 feet.
As totally special as Dian is, and with goddess beauty to boot… she did not make “millions” posing explicitly nude for Playboy… and even coupling that with all of the “merchandising” she did on her own to capitalize on her Playboy appearance. She did not come even close. Sure, she made a nice haul… but not “millions” that’s for sure.
I know from my media work that some camgirls and adult models of today do quite well for not being famous or celebrated; most newcomers fall flat. But, the girls who do make bank… it’s not nearly enough to compensate them for what they’re losing or giving up. Going nude or semi-nude online is a gamble, not a sure thing. There’s just so much of this stuff on the Net that it’s very difficult to breakout of the clutter. It can be a devastating experience for many girls who only seek to reach for the stars and feel special and desired.
A girl who consents to this much exposure is opening herself up to the worst kind of abuse and scorn. It’s a bad plan. If this “babe”, your beauty as you called her is putting up with you, do something very special and noble to make her happy for at least a little while… you owe her.
Q. Did you do any more work with Chuck Noll after he left the Steelers?
A. I left Pittsburgh quite some time before he left the team. I firmly believe he was a truly great man. I learned so much about everything in life from him. In fact, most of the best, most memorable conversations I had with him had nothing to do with football or any sport. He had a very deep and insightful mind. There have been many times since parting ways with him that I wished again for his counsel and advice.
I thought of writing a tribute based on the book and movie, “My Dinner with Andre”. But, my parody would be “My Dinners with Chuck”. We taped his Steeler show on Wednesday nights and afterward we’d have dinner together.
Sometimes it would just be the two of us. Sometimes if he had another coach, or one of the players on the show as guests, they would be included. Chuck’s wife came to dinner one night, as did his son another time. Those were very good and memorable social events. I always enjoyed listening to him order wine.
He was a quietly religious man of strong moral and ethical convictions. He once told me if I wanted to carve out a truly meaningful place for myself in the world… to always, first and foremost, be a “true gentleman“. He said, they’re not making many of them anymore. For every year and generation that goes by they are fewer in numbers. You might see a future time when real men… real gentlemen exist only in historical literature.
When we stopped working together, I thought many times of trying to continue the relationship beyond the working one. But, on second thought, I concluded that it was something the Coach probably would not do. So, things kind of just faded away.
I had moved and was living in Arizona when I heard that he had passed away. It was truly bad news that made for one of the saddest days of my life.
Q. What would you say is your greatest strength as a creative guy in advertising?
A. I used to say during new business pitches to prospective clients that I was a “jack of all trades and master of none”. I think they saw me as being refreshingly honest… or at least that’s what I was told. I found most Mad Men to be arrogant and conceited. But, I truly believe I didn’t have one, single, great strength that made me a good “Mad Man”. I was just competent enough to manage to get things done in a way where it seemed to work.
Q. I used to enjoy your stories and thoughts about your adventures and experiences with animals. Do you still work with animal causes and charities?
A. That’s a very nice question. Thank you for asking. Yes, if I can do anything good for anybody, I prefer it to be for an animal or animals. I actually like and favor the company of animals over people. They are always innocent and sometimes very alone and helpless.
I’m afraid I have not done nearly enough to help. So, I’m working and hoping to generate good things, like money, to help animal friends. This is the focus of what I do these days. As I’ve said in the past, I’m an especially soft touch for dogs and horses. But, I’m moved by the plights of all of God’s creatures and critters. So, I look for allies who are willing to help me, help them. Usually, it’s just a “consideration” thing… give a us a free plug on your website, or give the cause some exposure through your social media. Usually it’s simple and easy to accomplish.
I’d like to think that at least some of you remember “Bella” aka “Bella Belle Bella”. Many of you were extremely kind and generous to help when her various and diverse predicaments were publicized. She was a thoroughbred racehorse whose racing career ended quickly when she was injured with a chipped bone at the back of her foot during a routine training workout. She was only four years old… no longer healthy enough to race, her owners at the time began grooming her to be a “companion horse”.
During her career, she raced at Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Santa Anita. Bella and I crossed paths several times during her life. Basically, financial support was what was provided each of those times and when she needed help the most.
She was called upon again and again to work her miracles as a companion horse to other horses as well as humans. I recall the time when she was asked to help a former herd mate who was in mourning after the passing of one of her owners… and she had stopped eating. Bella’s presence immediately comforted this mare and her other owner by helping them both get through their grief and sadness.
“Companion horse” doesn’t fully describe her. She was a a very sweet and affectionate horse with a truly compassion-filled personality. Bella had a strong sense of knowing what was needed and always rose to the occasion. Some horses are just awesome this way.
I have been very blessed to share six amazing years with Bella in Arizona. Not far from my home, she has lived in a beautiful setting with a peaceful pasture and other great horses… which is all so fitting for a mare of her great stature.
On May 2nd… I, along with allies and friends, had to say “goodbye” to our beautiful Bella. She had developed a heart problem due to complications of age that was quickly going to cause her many other problems. We were told… we would be more than kind to let her go.
It was humbling and an honor to have her in my life. I am not ashamed or embarrassed to confess that I am crying like a baby as I type this. My heart is fully broken. I will never forget her. She was an AMAZING horse. RIP, Beauty.
One more point…
Since there are new people coming onto the site everyday hopefully, I want to move on to say if you consider revisiting the site or following it for any reason, please do it for the animals. This is my or our passion and focus and I would appreciate your viral help with animal causes.
I have nothing officially formal yet to explain or promote. Please don’t jump the gun and send me contributions… we may never arrive in that sense. The ASPCA is always a great place to start if that’s what you have in mind. My concern are the cases that fall between the cracks of the purview of bigger, better known charitable organizations. Sadly, there are issues that are considered too “small” to get the attention and assistance they need.
I will be dusting off the cobwebs on my Twitter account so that Twitter inclined users can find us there. I’m not big on social media otherwise. Please watch this space for more on this.
Q. It seems you’re especially proud of the work you did with Lauren Hutton. What was it about that creative alliance that makes it especially memorable for you. If you could work with her again, would you?
A. More than anything I am especially grateful for just having known her in the time and place when I did. She often referred to herself as a “vulnerable” woman. But, I saw her as a very strong woman… a very independent and self-determining lady. Just the same, she would frequently remind me… “I’m a vulnerable girl. You need to take care of me.”
I actually have not talked with Lauren in years. We both went through some very rough patches, both personally and professionally which were life-altering. As a result, as we went on to survive, we simply grew into different people from who we were earlier in our lives. Things change.
She often described our work together as a “partnership mired in a labor of love”. I decided to honor my memories of her as she was when we created as allies and partners, and simply let the past slip away. I think she was of the same mind and shared those feelings.
But as I look back, I have now come to view Lauren as the most influential and inspiring person I have ever encountered. My work with her really put me “on the map” in the agency business. If I was ever anything like a star… or even close… it was because of Lauren’s passion, talent and dedication. She made me look really good.
Our intense working “partnership” had us working 12 to 14 hour days every day that we were together. She was so completely inspiring. I can not say enough positive things about her.
We… me, my account team, and Lauren… were the talk of the ad business for a long time after our creative alliance was completed. We won a “boatload” of industry awards… in fact, we won every category in every individual trade organization that we were eligible to compete in… it was probably the most thorough and pervasive awards “clean sweep” any agency or creative team ever compiled or achieved.
Q.I think I could be multi-skilled in creative arts like you. But for economic reasons mainly, I can’t afford to experiment too much. I need to make money with as few tries as possible. I do design, photography and some copywriting. What area would be most promising and best in the long run?
A. Hard to say specific to you without seeing samples of your work. Generally, you’ll have less competition writing for money. I believe I’m correct in saying writing comes hard for most people; even for people who are full-time paid writers. I know writing comes very difficult to me and I’m just an average writer. It’s the creative process I least enjoy confronting.
Nearly all campaigns… whether they’re run-of-the-mill or award-winning efforts… start with good writing. If you conceptualize well and learn to translate your thoughts and ideas into written words, you’re more than half way there.
My advice would be to focus on writing. Designers, illustrators and photographers are essentially a glut on the job market. And, job security is always brighter and better for writers. You only need to be an adequate, competent writer to stay employed, because market tested writers in just about all types of economies and markets are hard to find. Good luck!
Q. Hiya Ron, I’m a 24-year old sugarbabe and I love “interpretative jazz dancing”. I’d love to do it for a living, but I live in farm country. I have an all natural 38-24-37 bod and I must confess I have taken to the exotic dancing stage to pay my rent a couple of times. I’m not a prude, but I’m not a slut or a whore either. I’m told I photograph really well. Aren’t there sites out there where I could sell subscriptions to photo galleries of bikini and lingerie shots… (I’m OK with skimpy clothes) and maybe some dance clips? I checked out one site called “Patreon”, but the more and longer I looked around it got kinda nasty. A lot of the female “creators and models” did explicit cam shows or “custom” photo shoots to order.
A. It’s almost impossible to know all of the internet’s offerings from top to bottom. I would caution you that there are many sites which masquerade as “mainstream” sites that are actually most often found through porn searches. They acquire the bulk of their traffic from the same which is not good at all.
A few of those sites are Scriles, OnlyFans and Unlocked. I would say Patreon is the most non-adult of those. With the exception of Patreon, I would stay far away from these websites and have no association with them. The very real and serious problem here is that search engines see and index those sites as hardcore porn sites.
So, even if you only do semi-risque, sexy images, you will be cross-referenced in search engines with hardcore porn. Then, when someone does a search on you or your image content, you could very easily be identified as a pornographer… not a good image, and you are almost certainly eliminated from all mainstream content considerations.
I only published a small part of your question and comments. You sound like a real sweetheart. My heart goes out to you. I sincerely hope I can help you… I really hate to see nice girls get bum steers and abused.
Do as much as you can on your own. Work on your selfie skills. An idea for you… you might think about re-creating famous pin-up art. Lots of guys who are of all ages love this sexy nostalgia. They (seriously) collect the images and decorate themselves and their man caves with it. You can also merchandise your images on posters, pillows, beer mugs, T-shirts etc. You only need a Vista Print account to get started.
Let me know how it goes. If you need a website to catalog your offerings, I can help. Think Ebay and Etsy for additional exposure and distribution. Good luck!
Q. What was Fred Rogers like in real life?
A. Fred Rogers was almost totally “Mr. Rogers” in real life too. He was hardly different at all from his TV character persona. He and his wife ran a very important company. So, there were times when he needed to wear a business man’s hat. But mostly, Fred was Mr. Rogers 24/7. He was a very caring, generous… and and I would say a “loving to all” kind of person. He didn’t have a mean, harsh or indecent bone in his body. He was a friend who was always willing to help and care about other people’s problems.
Q. Have you represented any sports celebrities, and if so, who and what are your thoughts about your experience?
A. I worked with the Steelers of course, but I was a small part of the whole PR effort for the entire team. Beyond this, I have worked with a couple… maybe three individuals who I won’t name. It was not an especially good experience.
I found them to be quite elitist when they had absolutely no reason or justification for elitism. It was an attitude thing and I simply did not appreciate that whole bit. I really didn’t have time for their self-centered nonsense. This seems to be more true of the jocks of today and of the last few years, as compared to my early days in the business. So, my verdict on male jocks… of all kinds… in 2021… a hideous, moving clown show.
The one sports celebrity I did work with who I enjoyed as an “athlete” and professional and who I had much respect for was Chip Ganassi. Chip was a Formula One race car driver and I assisted him in efforts relating to sponsorship and product marketing… a nice, decent and down-to-earth guy.
Q. I’m in a mess. Can you please help me?
Ron, my beautiful big sister worked with you some years back when you were both in the agency business. It was not Ketchum. This was later at a smaller agency. She said you were one of the nicest guys she’d ever met. You were very thoughtful and considerate and especially protective of the women in your group.
I am a 30-year old single mom. I did a terrible, stupid thing. I allowed a boyfriend to take explicit nude photos of me. I don’t know why I did it, but I’m very ashamed of my ridiculous decision and behavior. I will die if my family, and especially my kids ever find about this. How do I get out of this mess?
He’s threatening to sell my pictures if I don’t give him money and/or more sex. And, I’m afraid he could do other things if I don’t do want he wants. We’re in a small community and he scares me.
Sis and I followed your old website and very much enjoyed it. We’re glad to see you coming back. Can you help me? Please?
A: Of course, we’ll help you; especially if you could stop all the “falling snow” that’s going on here. And, I do wished I knew for sure who “big sis” is… any hints? Seriously, don’t panic. You’ll be OK. You have control over this. What state do you now live in? I’m confident in telling you that you’re a victim of a real crime. Threats of blackmail and extortion don’t go down well in the very vast majority of state jurisdictions. He could be in serious trouble if you have any correspondence (letter, email, voicemail, hand written note) that proves your claim. We’ll make a midnight call.
Most often idiots like him disappear at the first mention of the possibility of law enforcement getting involved. He’s dead wrong for what he’s trying to pull on you and has no defense at all. I’ll be in touch.
I’m amazed at how many nice girls run into problems along these lines. I’m asked about it frequently. I guess it’s best not to get naked around cameras or boyfriends who are devoid of morals and ethics.
Q1. I was in Sedona, Arizona a few years ago and I visited an art gallery there in a Mexican Village-like outdoor mall. I was sure I saw paintings with your name signed to them. Being ex-Mad Man myself, I was a regular reader of your website and other online work back then. Also saw a video of you with Bert & Barz. Were those paintings yours? I almost bought one of a white horse.
Q2. I was told by a dealer that your paintings are highly collectable. He called you a brilliant painter. Can you post a sample or your work? Where do you sell?
Q1A: I was represented by a Sedona gallery that went bankrupt. And, I did have a painting in that group that was titled, “The White Horse”. I lost several paintings in the gallery bankruptcy. “The White Horse” was the only painting that survived that debacle.
Q2A: I’m afraid you were badly misinformed. I am NOT a highly collectible painter. And “brilliant” painters are just about a dime a dozen. Shoot that dealer. Buying anything with my name on it could be a big mistake if you’re looking to buy as an investor. My guess… you will probably lose money. If you just want something to hang over the couch that’s your call.
Just so you know, trying to make an actual, real living as a painter is tantamount to all the competent actors in Hollywood who are there to “get discovered”. It only happens for a handful of people and there’s no rhyme or reason why it happens for some and not others.
For me, everytime I picked up a paintbrush with the very best intentions, it ended badly for me. That’s why I’m not motivated to paint anymore.
I don’t have many paintings out there that I know of… if you come across any please let me know where. I haven’t picked up a paint brush in a very long time… so I don’t sell anything, anywhere..
Q1. Any chance you do online consulting? I have a couple of websites that I would love for you to review and provide some honest opinion regarding how you would make them better. If there’s a fee involved please advise. Thanks!
A: I would not charge you anything to look at your websites. But, I should advise you I only provide dishonest opinions. Seriously, you’re giving me way too much credit for being an expert on anything. I would be glad to offer an opinion or suggestions, but please don’t hold your breath that I’m going to solve a problem that to date has been unsolvable. Shoot me an email with your site’s URLs and any background info on how you’re being challenged.
On the subject of “onlne” consulting… I’ll provide a detailed email with links and visuals if that’s needed and appropriate. I don’t do skype or any kind of video conferencing… it’s a vanity thing. I don’t like how I look on video chats. I scare myself.
And, I don’t do fee-based consulting and I only communicate via email… it doesn’t make any difference to me whether you live right beside me or on the other side of the world.
Q. As an Ad “Woman” I’ve been reading your site and peripheral articles for almost a month now. I’m very curious about your background. Could you give me a little sample of your resume?
A: I started out in the “field” of advertising and media right out of art school and then college as a “commercial” artist. I learned quickly as time marched forward that doing anything positive and rewarding in advertising in Pittsburgh was a steep climb. Despite the presence of Ketchum, MacLeod and Grove in the city, Pittsburgh was far from the Mecca of advertising.
I also learned the hard way that ad agencies lose business and clients for all sorts of reasons. It’s very seldom that a client is lost because they were not well served or represented. It’s more likely the client merged with a competitor, or a newly appointed client President had a close relative working at another agency. The bottomline is you can be “gone” as a result of events you have absolutely no control over.
It was very hard to stay gainfully employed. This fact alone guarantees you will be deeply affected by the recklessness of desperation at some point… maybe many times in a career.
I always had a flair for the creative side of the business, so I tended to take on jobs in those areas. At one time or another, I was a graphic designer, artist illustrator, art director, creative director and I morphed into a copywriter; despite having no formal introduction to the arts of writing or journalism.
Toward the noble and essential “means to an end” of earning a paycheck, I was also a photographer, cinematographer, editor and film director. I’ve written radio and television scripts, illustrated story boards, auditioned and hired on-camera and on-mike talent, and won my fair share of industry awards for work that some might say “I faked my way through.”
I will admit that there were times when I was a scoundrel. But, I learned as I moved up and through the business that I was not alone. In fact, many of the folks who gave me a break and a hand-up had my same “college of hard knocks” education. It was always gratifying to be able to identify and recognize your associates and peers who shared the treacherous journey… it was an informal club with heavy dues.
Before I was sentenced to full-time torture in the world of the Madison Avenue wanna-bees, I worked in television. My first job was at WQED-TV, Channel 13 and my second job was at WIIC-TV, Channel 11 in Pittsburgh. I loved both jobs and employers, but even I could see that promotion opportunities and the technology of television were not moving in a direction that was favorable to someone like me. I did all sorts of TV production at both studios and for the most part, TV was fun and spiritually rewarding despite the fact I could sense it would eventually offer me no future.
I have a very unique and weird resume. Overall, my career highs were on the fringe of outer space. My lows were suicide-inspiring. No, I would never. I was a little too smart and lucky-in-life for that abrupt of an ending.
Q1. My time in the ad business was far after the “Mad Men” era. The tensions of all kinds, and the drama between men and women in the agency biz were not there. Were they in your time? And, was the girl-boy action exaggerated in the TV show?
A: Overall, I would say Andrew Weiner did an excellent job of capturing the “Mad Men” era of advertising agency life. If anything, he was a bit light on the hanky panky part of it. In my experience, the girl-boy play was more pervasive and evident… and very tolerated. That might largely be due to Ketchum’s agency and office policies that stimulated a lot of very social interaction.
I was married while at Ketchum (still am) and I was far too busy and work-focused to be a player. I may have cheated in daydreams; in fact, I know I did. It was extremely difficult not to. Almost all of the women were knock-down gorgeous. They were hired for their looks, class and savvy… and there were no apologies or excuses offered for that policy. Most of them had really sharp minds and a few had great minds complementing their great looks.
I had two women at Ketchum who I was very close to… the first met was a true superstar not only at Ketchum, but throughout the agency world. She was Media Director for all of Ketchum’s five offices and a Senior Vice President. The only woman on the Executive Committee. Even though our birthdays were a month apart she was like my big sister. In fact, I referred to as often as possible as “Big Sister Judy”. She was married to a harmless guy and had no kids.
We both had Italian ancestry in our backgrounds and at first meeting that was a kind of bond between us; there weren’t many of us in the company. She was very “proper” and polished; except with me. She revealed a lusty, irreverent side and a penchant for dirty jokes and off-color humor.
Our offices were across the wide hall from one another. I had a small inside office. She had a corner, window office more than 3-times the size of mine. When we sat at our desks we faced each other head on. She excelled in making faces at me, and had a unique, everyday morning greeting for me. She would flip me the bird and then blow me a kiss in one, smooth, choreographed move.
We were on the same account team. She looked after me, gave lots of advice and always had my back. I loved her. She was spectacular.
The second of my incredible Ketchum women was my secretary. She joined me about a month after I started in account service. I had Kaufmann’s Department Stores as my only account. It was unlike any other account Ketchum had. It was high-end retail and very fast paced; whereas all of Ketchum’s other clients were stodgy financial and industrial accounts that were slow-moving and kind of sleep-inducing.
Kaufmann’s was considered a very special client. It was a chance for breakthrough account service. If we could prove to the world we could handle such a demanding and high-society client… the retail and consumer world of business became our oyster. The account was very important, so I became very important. I had all important agency eyes on me.
While most Ketchum AEs had to share their secretaries with at least one other AE, I got one who was exclusive to me… all mine. Her name was Cyndi. She was hired by corporate right out of high school. She had a genius IQ. And, she was 18 going on 30. She was also stunningly beautiful.
I’ll never forget the first time I approached my office on Cyndi’s first full day. She was sitting at her new desk just outside my door. She was an incredibly impressive vision. Everybody was coming around to get a look at the new girl. Who would have thought a young lady just 10 days out of high school could inspire a swarm in a big, professional office?
I dispensed with all of the formalities. I didn’t want her calling me, Mr. or Sir. She was quick to learn, humbly intelligent and smoothly caught on to all the office politics. But, even though she was wise and savvy beyond her years, she was somewhat naive about being around adults socially; especially the kind of adults that lurked around Ketchum. Every guy in the office was hopeful of getting something going with her.
She was in the sights of every hunter in executive account services. I would get anonymous voice mail messages, “Hey, Bond, James Bond, have you had her for lunch yet… and I do mean… had her for lunch?”
Of course, I didn’t want Cyndi hearing any of that kind of stuff. So, I did everything possible to grease the rumor mill that she was my girl, and very loyal to me. I’d take her out to lunch at least once a week. Wednesday and Friday nights were traditional Ketchum Happy Hour parties at our favorite, close-by, trendy bistro.
Cyndi loved those nights. It was a chance for her to socialize and be seen with all the grown-up suits and lady suits. And, to laugh and dish about the more flamboyant adulterers in the office. By state law, she wasn’t old enough to be drinking, bu no one was going to give a hard time as she was seen as a part of the very large and controlling Ketchum group.
We used to try to start our days together leisurely enjoying morning coffee in my office. I asked her about a month or so sfter she started how she was liking her job and Ketchum. She came back with… “I really like the way you treat me. I can’t thank you enough for that. I know I’m getting special care… some of the other girls are jealous. So, I figure it this way… Monday through Friday, eight-to-5, I’m your wife. It’s my job to support you and make you happy. Wednesday and Friday nights are our “date” nights and I’m your Happy Hour girlfriend then. I checked and it’s all OK with your other wife. I’m having the best time. So, if you do anything stupid and ruin this for me, I will make your Ketchum life with me miserable.” (to be continued…)
I’ll continue this in a full blown article titled, “The Women of Ketchum.“
Q. Ron, would you be so kind to untangle the “Deep Throat” controversy that engulfed you, Bert and Barz and surfaced in the media several years ago?
A: This is one of those “nothing” stories that never seems to go away. It’s relevance to the three of us was always very sketchy. At the time, we thought… in the spirit of there’s no such thing as bad publicity (that’s a complete myth, by the way) to just let it go and it will do no harm to us. It’s actually very “much ado about nothing”.
I can’t recall that much about it. During a Q & A session that we’d typically offer during an appearance, a middle-aged woman asked what we thought of all the publicity the “Deep Throat” movie was getting… and as a PR professional did she have the right to refuse to participate in promoting it.
The three of us looked at one another wondering where this was coming from and why in the world was she asking us an ethical question. What we didn’t realize was that the city where this lady was from was seeing a revival of the movie along with a revival of another porn flick called “Behind the Green Door”.
The “stars” of both movies were making highly-publicized personal and media appearances in her city… a fact which I guessed she was protesting by asking the question. Both movies were probably at least a decade old at the time so it seemed strange we were being dragged into such an old controversy.
Lucky for Bert and I that Barz was able to offer an hilarious rant on the subject. He really was triggered by the question and found the idea repulsive. His feelings on the subject were very strong… “here’s a woman whose talent is… what did you say?… she does what very promiscuously?… and this makes her worthy of being celebrated as some sort of super sex hero by men and women of all ages?” The audience seemed to enjoy his rant.
I happened to agree with him 100%. This is not a “work of art” that deserves any attention… much less special media attention. We were very lucky that Barz had a special talent for turning serious topics into comedy routines without being too graphic or offensive.
When we did Q & A’s, we more or less agreed that we should all give our 2-cents. I could tell that Bert wanted nothing to do with the question. So, I had to try to follow Barz. The only thing that came to mind was a real opinion I held that fit with the subject.
I just about blurted out… “first, I can’t see how any woman on the planet really wants to perform that act on any guy on the planet”. There was a loud hush through the audience quickly followed by boos and hisses from a number of the guys in the audience.
I was taken back by the reaction. I could feel my face turning bright red. I had never been roundly booed before and it took me by surprise. Kind of embarrassing.
I tried to recover by saying… “Seriously, guys… how can a girl really WANT to do that… what’s in it for her? I mean if you really love your girlfriend or wife and care about her… and her being happy… why would you even ask for it?
At that point, most, if not all of the women started applauding. More than a couple even rose to their feet. I looked over to Barz who gave me an approving a nod. Bert gave me a subdued thumbs up and a nod. He then went on to emphasize a couple of Barz’s points and a couple of mine in as funny a way as he could… and Bert was always very funny.
I’m sure the three of us were feeling very connected and cohesive after that exchange. It was unlike anything we had encountered in previous appearances and was kind of a test. We came out of it being somewhat entertaining while sticking together comedically in a mildly sensational way.
Now, I really don’t know about the magazine write-ups we allegedly received that you asked about. Somebody mentioned that the incident was noted in “Advertising Age” and/or “Adweek”. But, I can’t attest to it. I never saw any clippings on the event.
Q. Did you work as a courtroom sketch artist before or after your Mad Men days? That work had to be pressure-packed, did it help you in your ad agency work?
A: I was a courtroom sketch artist before my Mad Man days. I sketched for Pittsburgh local WIIC-TV and freelanced for NBC News. I covered a couple of major trials… the trial of Pittsburgh Mafia mobster, Tony Grosso… who was the illegal gambling kingpin on the East Coast; the murder trial of UMW President Jock Yablonski, his wife and daughter in their home; and Jeb Magruder’s and John Dean’s depositions in the Watergate Hearings in DC.
I actually don’t remember which I did first… the Yablonski murder trial was a grisly story that was made into a movie. Tony Grosso’s trial was almost fun. His brother, Sam Grosso, sat beside me everyday he was in court… he liked to watch me sketch. He was actually a very funny guy.
Another courtroom acquaintance I made who was also an interested audience for my sketching was Margot Dean… John Dean’s wife. She was a DC socialite who was also movie star gorgeous, and a very nice and pleasant lady. We shared several fascinating conversations about living in the public eye.
Meeting most of these people who emerged as celebrities from news coverage outside the courtroom was a very educational experience. This fact teamed with the need to think quickly “on your feet”, and to react appropriately and decisively was handy training for being an advertising agency account executive. Plus, being around so many people in desperate situations was very preparatory for being a Mad Man.
Thanks for visiting. Hope you enjoyed your time here after all these years. We’ll be back soon with bigger and better stuff!