Oct 23, 2021
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THE BRIEF: Talking with Howie Cohen. Try it you’ll like it.

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

Every creative person I know in L.A. says the same thing. “You gotta talk to Howie Cohen.” So I’m thrilled when Howie says he’ll let me interview him for The Brief. Though I shouldn’t be surprised, as Howie is a self-professed “mensch.” And, as I am about to learn, a genuinely nice ad guy.

(And you thought that was an oxymoron.)

Howie suggests we meet in margarita heaven but interview hell. At a Mexican restaurant near The Phelps Group, an independent integrated marketing communications agency in Santa Monica (near the beach) where Cohen is currently a partner and Chief Creative Officer. I would love to say that I could hear everything Cohen said during our two hour interview, but in all truth, between the waiter insinuating himself into our conversation (just in case he could pitch his very own screenplay – as everyone, including the homeless in L.A, are working on a screenplay) and the overall ambient sound of crunching tortilla chips, gulping of drinks, and hobbling of heels over terracotta tiles – all I can say is it was no surprise, audio-wise, that the tape on my low-tech tape recorder snapped off leaving me with nothing but my memory and vivid impressions. And a huge Mexican feast. I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.

Here’s the salsa on Cohen. He started out in 1965 as a cub writer on the VW Beetle account. What an entrance. That was during the time when Bill Bernbach’s agency was a landing strip for shooting stars. Halls were filled with great thinkers like George Lois, Len Sirowitz, Sid Meyers, Bob Reitzfeld, Mike Mangano, Mike Lawlor, Bob Matsumoto and Bob Kuperman – to name a few. Creatives were pitching iconic campaigns such as Volkswagen “Think small”, Avis ‘We Try Harder”, Levy’s Rye Bread “You don’t have to be Jewish to Love Levy’s”, Mobil “We want you to live”.*

Now you should know that Cohen went over to Wells, Rich, Greene to work for the giant, Charlie Moss and the impeccable Mary Wells. She was responsible for plopping Alka-Seltzer into the daily lives of the burping American suburbs. At Wells, Rich, Greene, the young team of Howie Cohen and Bob Pasquilina were put on the Alka-Seltzer account – as the ‘just in case they hate everything else’ creative team.

To everyone’s surprise, the ‘kids’ came up with two legendary campaigns for Alka-Seltzer that went right to the Clio Hall of Fame. Their campaign lines ”Try it, you’ll like it” * and “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”* caught on like Elvis and made war rooms of boardrooms – client vs. agency – huffing and puffing, “Give me one a those catchy phrases like ‘I can’t believe I ate the whole thing’ like ‘Try it, you’ll like it.'”

Success sent Cohen and Pasqualina packing. Landing as co-creative directors at Wells, Rich, Greene/ Los Angeles. Where the agency had substantial accounts such as Columbia Pictures, Max Factor and a fast-food chain that was quickly losing its numbers.

Jack in the Box was having trouble competing with McDonald’s and Burger King for share of the family business. It also had a bad reputation for its food and was disparagingly labeled “Gag-in-the-Bag”. These are problems that make clients run for the hills and acquire new agencies.

But Cohen and Pasqualina had a big idea to express Jack in the Box’s total change.* They would explode the clown. Boom!

As Cohen says, “Blame it on the clown. We didn’t disappoint our customers, the clown did.”*

The research numbers for the campaign, 30 being high, were at 72, making it the highest scoring fast food commercial of that time. And perhaps the very first ‘event-driven’ fully integrated marketing campaign, if not close to it.

Which brings this conversation to the present. And Howie Cohen is very much the present tense. As the CCO of The Phelps Group, considered one of the largest leading integrated marketing communications agencies on the West Coast, and recognized as one of LA’s “Best Places to Work” four years in a row, it’s no wonder we find Howie Cohen in that culture.

WARNING: If you’re unhappy with your agency, the following could be advantageous to your health.

The Phelps Group offers a range of progressive workplace benefits, including: reimbursement for education classes and programs; ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan); telecommuting; pet-friendly work environment; green workplace program; full-feedback environment; competitive pay and health benefits; weekly educational seminars; and hosted lunch twice a week.*

Howie referred me to the launch of his latest campaign for the City of Hope. The campaign line is: City of Hope, We Live to Cure Cancer. Cohen explains, “It’s the reason they get up in the morning. It’s what they live and breathe to accomplish – beat cancer! And unlike other hospitals that treat everything from heart disease to obesity to bad knees, City of Hope’s singular focus on curing cancer makes them the best at what they do.”

It’s The Brief’s belief that the reason for Howie Cohen’s longevity in this youth-obsessed business is his passion and singular desire to be the best at what he does too. Needless to say, The Brief would agree with my creative friends in L.A., you gotta speak to Howie.

You can do that by going to his blog MadMensch.* Which is chock full of nuts.

And don’t forget to send me your comments on Facebook and Twitter. Always great to hear from you. 


Sources of inspiration:

  • Alka-Seltzer commercial Script (1971, 30 seconds “Try it you’ll like it” by Howie Cohen and Bob Pasqualina. It went like this:

  Man: I came to this little place, the waiter says,

  Man imitating waiter: “Try this you’ll like it.”

  Man: “What’s this?”

  Man imitating waiter: “Try it, you’ll like it.”

  Man: “But what is it?”

  Man imitating waiter: “Try it, you’ll like it.”

  Man: So I tried it… thought I was going to die. Took two Alka-Seltzers.

Voice Over: For headache and acid indigestion, no aspirin or antacid alone relieves you in as many ways as Alka-Seltzer. For headache and acid indigestion.

Man: Alka-Seltzer works. [imitates waiter] Try it, you’ll like it.

—–

Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
LinkedIn // Facebook // Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

THE BRIEF: Talking with Howie Cohen. Try it you’ll like it.

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

Every creative person I know in L.A. says the same thing. “You gotta talk to Howie Cohen.” So I’m thrilled when Howie says he’ll let me interview him for The Brief. Though I shouldn’t be surprised, as Howie is a self-professed “mensch.” And, as I am about to learn, a genuinely nice ad guy.

(And you thought that was an oxymoron.)

Howie suggests we meet in margarita heaven but interview hell. At a Mexican restaurant near The Phelps Group, an independent integrated marketing communications agency in Santa Monica (near the beach) where Cohen is currently a partner and Chief Creative Officer. I would love to say that I could hear everything Cohen said during our two hour interview, but in all truth, between the waiter insinuating himself into our conversation (just in case he could pitch his very own screenplay – as everyone, including the homeless in L.A, are working on a screenplay) and the overall ambient sound of crunching tortilla chips, gulping of drinks, and hobbling of heels over terracotta tiles – all I can say is it was no surprise, audio-wise, that the tape on my low-tech tape recorder snapped off leaving me with nothing but my memory and vivid impressions. And a huge Mexican feast. I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.

Here’s the salsa on Cohen. He started out in 1965 as a cub writer on the VW Beetle account. What an entrance. That was during the time when Bill Bernbach’s agency was a landing strip for shooting stars. Halls were filled with great thinkers like George Lois, Len Sirowitz, Sid Meyers, Bob Reitzfeld, Mike Mangano, Mike Lawlor, Bob Matsumoto and Bob Kuperman – to name a few. Creatives were pitching iconic campaigns such as Volkswagen “Think small”, Avis ‘We Try Harder”, Levy’s Rye Bread “You don’t have to be Jewish to Love Levy’s”, Mobil “We want you to live”.*

Now you should know that Cohen went over to Wells, Rich, Greene to work for the giant, Charlie Moss and the impeccable Mary Wells. She was responsible for plopping Alka-Seltzer into the daily lives of the burping American suburbs. At Wells, Rich, Greene, the young team of Howie Cohen and Bob Pasquilina were put on the Alka-Seltzer account – as the ‘just in case they hate everything else’ creative team.

To everyone’s surprise, the ‘kids’ came up with two legendary campaigns for Alka-Seltzer that went right to the Clio Hall of Fame. Their campaign lines ”Try it, you’ll like it” * and “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”* caught on like Elvis and made war rooms of boardrooms – client vs. agency – huffing and puffing, “Give me one a those catchy phrases like ‘I can’t believe I ate the whole thing’ like ‘Try it, you’ll like it.'”

Success sent Cohen and Pasqualina packing. Landing as co-creative directors at Wells, Rich, Greene/ Los Angeles. Where the agency had substantial accounts such as Columbia Pictures, Max Factor and a fast-food chain that was quickly losing its numbers.

Jack in the Box was having trouble competing with McDonald’s and Burger King for share of the family business. It also had a bad reputation for its food and was disparagingly labeled “Gag-in-the-Bag”. These are problems that make clients run for the hills and acquire new agencies.

But Cohen and Pasqualina had a big idea to express Jack in the Box’s total change.* They would explode the clown. Boom!

As Cohen says, “Blame it on the clown. We didn’t disappoint our customers, the clown did.”*

The research numbers for the campaign, 30 being high, were at 72, making it the highest scoring fast food commercial of that time. And perhaps the very first ‘event-driven’ fully integrated marketing campaign, if not close to it.

Which brings this conversation to the present. And Howie Cohen is very much the present tense. As the CCO of The Phelps Group, considered one of the largest leading integrated marketing communications agencies on the West Coast, and recognized as one of LA’s “Best Places to Work” four years in a row, it’s no wonder we find Howie Cohen in that culture.

WARNING: If you’re unhappy with your agency, the following could be advantageous to your health.

The Phelps Group offers a range of progressive workplace benefits, including: reimbursement for education classes and programs; ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan); telecommuting; pet-friendly work environment; green workplace program; full-feedback environment; competitive pay and health benefits; weekly educational seminars; and hosted lunch twice a week.*

Howie referred me to the launch of his latest campaign for the City of Hope. The campaign line is: City of Hope, We Live to Cure Cancer. Cohen explains, “It’s the reason they get up in the morning. It’s what they live and breathe to accomplish – beat cancer! And unlike other hospitals that treat everything from heart disease to obesity to bad knees, City of Hope’s singular focus on curing cancer makes them the best at what they do.”

It’s The Brief’s belief that the reason for Howie Cohen’s longevity in this youth-obsessed business is his passion and singular desire to be the best at what he does too. Needless to say, The Brief would agree with my creative friends in L.A., you gotta speak to Howie.

You can do that by going to his blog MadMensch.* Which is chock full of nuts.

And don’t forget to send me your comments on Facebook and Twitter. Always great to hear from you. 


Sources of inspiration:

  • Alka-Seltzer commercial Script (1971, 30 seconds “Try it you’ll like it” by Howie Cohen and Bob Pasqualina. It went like this:

  Man: I came to this little place, the waiter says,

  Man imitating waiter: “Try this you’ll like it.”

  Man: “What’s this?”

  Man imitating waiter: “Try it, you’ll like it.”

  Man: “But what is it?”

  Man imitating waiter: “Try it, you’ll like it.”

  Man: So I tried it… thought I was going to die. Took two Alka-Seltzers.

Voice Over: For headache and acid indigestion, no aspirin or antacid alone relieves you in as many ways as Alka-Seltzer. For headache and acid indigestion.

Man: Alka-Seltzer works. [imitates waiter] Try it, you’ll like it.

—–

Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
LinkedIn // Facebook // Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

THE BRIEF: Talking with Howie Cohen. Try it you’ll like it.

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

Every creative person I know in L.A. says the same thing. “You gotta talk to Howie Cohen.” So I’m thrilled when Howie says he’ll let me interview him for The Brief. Though I shouldn’t be surprised, as Howie is a self-professed “mensch.” And, as I am about to learn, a genuinely nice ad guy.

(And you thought that was an oxymoron.)

Howie suggests we meet in margarita heaven but interview hell. At a Mexican restaurant near The Phelps Group, an independent integrated marketing communications agency in Santa Monica (near the beach) where Cohen is currently a partner and Chief Creative Officer. I would love to say that I could hear everything Cohen said during our two hour interview, but in all truth, between the waiter insinuating himself into our conversation (just in case he could pitch his very own screenplay – as everyone, including the homeless in L.A, are working on a screenplay) and the overall ambient sound of crunching tortilla chips, gulping of drinks, and hobbling of heels over terracotta tiles – all I can say is it was no surprise, audio-wise, that the tape on my low-tech tape recorder snapped off leaving me with nothing but my memory and vivid impressions. And a huge Mexican feast. I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.

Here’s the salsa on Cohen. He started out in 1965 as a cub writer on the VW Beetle account. What an entrance. That was during the time when Bill Bernbach’s agency was a landing strip for shooting stars. Halls were filled with great thinkers like George Lois, Len Sirowitz, Sid Meyers, Bob Reitzfeld, Mike Mangano, Mike Lawlor, Bob Matsumoto and Bob Kuperman – to name a few. Creatives were pitching iconic campaigns such as Volkswagen “Think small”, Avis ‘We Try Harder”, Levy’s Rye Bread “You don’t have to be Jewish to Love Levy’s”, Mobil “We want you to live”.*

Now you should know that Cohen went over to Wells, Rich, Greene to work for the giant, Charlie Moss and the impeccable Mary Wells. She was responsible for plopping Alka-Seltzer into the daily lives of the burping American suburbs. At Wells, Rich, Greene, the young team of Howie Cohen and Bob Pasquilina were put on the Alka-Seltzer account – as the ‘just in case they hate everything else’ creative team.

To everyone’s surprise, the ‘kids’ came up with two legendary campaigns for Alka-Seltzer that went right to the Clio Hall of Fame. Their campaign lines ”Try it, you’ll like it” * and “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”* caught on like Elvis and made war rooms of boardrooms – client vs. agency – huffing and puffing, “Give me one a those catchy phrases like ‘I can’t believe I ate the whole thing’ like ‘Try it, you’ll like it.'”

Success sent Cohen and Pasqualina packing. Landing as co-creative directors at Wells, Rich, Greene/ Los Angeles. Where the agency had substantial accounts such as Columbia Pictures, Max Factor and a fast-food chain that was quickly losing its numbers.

Jack in the Box was having trouble competing with McDonald’s and Burger King for share of the family business. It also had a bad reputation for its food and was disparagingly labeled “Gag-in-the-Bag”. These are problems that make clients run for the hills and acquire new agencies.

But Cohen and Pasqualina had a big idea to express Jack in the Box’s total change.* They would explode the clown. Boom!

As Cohen says, “Blame it on the clown. We didn’t disappoint our customers, the clown did.”*

The research numbers for the campaign, 30 being high, were at 72, making it the highest scoring fast food commercial of that time. And perhaps the very first ‘event-driven’ fully integrated marketing campaign, if not close to it.

Which brings this conversation to the present. And Howie Cohen is very much the present tense. As the CCO of The Phelps Group, considered one of the largest leading integrated marketing communications agencies on the West Coast, and recognized as one of LA’s “Best Places to Work” four years in a row, it’s no wonder we find Howie Cohen in that culture.

WARNING: If you’re unhappy with your agency, the following could be advantageous to your health.

The Phelps Group offers a range of progressive workplace benefits, including: reimbursement for education classes and programs; ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan); telecommuting; pet-friendly work environment; green workplace program; full-feedback environment; competitive pay and health benefits; weekly educational seminars; and hosted lunch twice a week.*

Howie referred me to the launch of his latest campaign for the City of Hope. The campaign line is: City of Hope, We Live to Cure Cancer. Cohen explains, “It’s the reason they get up in the morning. It’s what they live and breathe to accomplish – beat cancer! And unlike other hospitals that treat everything from heart disease to obesity to bad knees, City of Hope’s singular focus on curing cancer makes them the best at what they do.”

It’s The Brief’s belief that the reason for Howie Cohen’s longevity in this youth-obsessed business is his passion and singular desire to be the best at what he does too. Needless to say, The Brief would agree with my creative friends in L.A., you gotta speak to Howie.

You can do that by going to his blog MadMensch.* Which is chock full of nuts.

And don’t forget to send me your comments on Facebook and Twitter. Always great to hear from you. 


Sources of inspiration:

  • Alka-Seltzer commercial Script (1971, 30 seconds “Try it you’ll like it” by Howie Cohen and Bob Pasqualina. It went like this:

  Man: I came to this little place, the waiter says,

  Man imitating waiter: “Try this you’ll like it.”

  Man: “What’s this?”

  Man imitating waiter: “Try it, you’ll like it.”

  Man: “But what is it?”

  Man imitating waiter: “Try it, you’ll like it.”

  Man: So I tried it… thought I was going to die. Took two Alka-Seltzers.

Voice Over: For headache and acid indigestion, no aspirin or antacid alone relieves you in as many ways as Alka-Seltzer. For headache and acid indigestion.

Man: Alka-Seltzer works. [imitates waiter] Try it, you’ll like it.

—–

Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
LinkedIn // Facebook // Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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