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How’d You Get In: Steve Hayden

Posted on September 9, 2008 and read 1,455 times

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This week’s edition of HOW’D YOU GET IN looks at Ogilvy & Mather Vice-Chairman and Wordwide Creative Director, Steve Hayden. His parents let him down, he says, and that’s how Steve ended up in advertising.  So I guess we can thank them for Apple’s “1984″.

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steve Howd You Get In: Steve Hayden




• Steve Hayden circa 1986 •

“I got married very young – age 20 – because my parents let me down.  My girlfriend wanted to get married, and, being a people pleaser, I told her I’d love to marry her, but I’d have to ask my parents’ permission.  Knowing full well that they’d say NO WAY, because I was still in college and didn’t have any prospects for gainful employment.  Much to my surprise, they said, “Great!  Getting married should settle you down and maybe keep you from killing yourself.”

So then I needed a job.  Someone suggested I seek work in advertising.  After many years reading about sleazy ad men in Mad, I said, “Oh, I don’t think I could do that.”  We had moved back to Michigan so my new wife could finish her master’s at the U of M, and I started looking for a job.  Her sister Bonnie worked as a copywriter at MacManus, John & Adams in Bloomfield Hills.  They had tons of car business – Pontiac, Cadillac, GM Corporate, Fisher-Body.  As well as Bendix, Dow, Divco-Wayne, Youngstown Steel, etc.  In those days, there was something called the Campbell-Ewald Creative Test, a series of ten typical advertising problems you had to solve.  There were no portfolio schools or ad centers.  I had no partner.  I just did as best I could and took it in to the creative director, Ron Monchak.  Fortunately, I’d also published a humor magazine at USC, which at least proved I could write.

After what seemed like months of silence and pestering my sister-in-law half to death, I got an offer: $6,000 a year to come in as a trainee copywriter.  Phew.  For the first time that fall, we were able to buy buns to go with our hot dogs.

Because I was a young guy from California, my first assignment was to consult with GM about why their cars weren’t selling on the west coast.  I said, “Well, they’re ugly, they get lousy mileage and they break a lot.”  I was promptly reassigned to Bendix grinding wheel account.

And the rest is history.  Thank you, Bonnie… “






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