This space will carry the story of how one of the most awarded commercial teams in history:
1. Came to be. 2. Created its illusions 3. Produced earth-shattering sales. 4. Lured Christian Cooper to be Jack Byrne’s wife.
Here are a few of the thousands of messages imparted by Jay & Day.
In 1967, Baker & Byrne were in their second year of merger with the people of Mogul Williams & Saylor which had needed new partners as their “star” Emil Mogul was retiring. The new agency, Mogul Baker Byrne Weiss, had Baker as President and Byrne as EVP with Sidney Matthew Weiss as Chairman of the Board. In 1967, Roger Anderson and his wife Lucy Belle had left their employment as Talk Show hosts in Phoenix and come to New York City with their three children. It was a brave move but they hoped Roger would thrive in advertising which was, of course, centered in New York City. In Phoenix, as a side venture, he had created and even produced, commercials. One, for a pasta company, won an area-wide award.
At MBBW, the principal media was radio, which, having built the previous agency with its famous jingle-type commercials for Barney’s, Ronzoni and National Shoes, had even owned a few radio stations which Emil took with him as part of his settlement upon retirement. Whereas, Steve Baker was creative director for print and TV, radio was the province of Jack Byrne. Once in control, I wanted to modernize the sound coming from our client’s commercials. I was interested in advertising that nestled closer to programming or reporting, the primary communication functions of the media. I sought to build a strong identification which was then a rather new approach to the commercial side of radio. One cog in the plan was to bring in a radio producer. The role was being filled by our TV producer who was technologically skilled but had no creative contribution to make. I put out a call for interviews.
At that very time, Lucy Belle was sitting on a boulder in Central Park and (she reported) heard her deceased father’s voice say, “Speak to the Ronzoni people!”. Stunned and not sure if she had dozed off and a dream had spoke, she came home to Roger and reported the incident, word for remembered word. Roger, being somewhat more mystical that his wife, took the message seriously especially since Ronzoni was pasta and he was the proud winner of a TV award for pasta in Arizona. The next day he called Ronzoni and told them he had ideas for their advertising and they replied that’s the business of their agency and gave them MBBW’s address. That afternoon, Roger showed up at the front desk of the agency at 385 Madison Avenue. The desk called Steve the president and he said he wasn’t looking for anybody. Then I happened to come in the door and the desk told me what Roger was looking for. I told him I wasn’t looking for a TV writer or producer but I was looking for a radio man. His disheartened face suddenly beamed. “I’ve produced tons of radio, had my own show out west.” “Come in”, I replied.
The meeting took only minutes. Beyond his obvious knowledge and experience, his voice was incredibly professional and obviously convincing. We agreed on a price. Roger started the next day.
He was fascinating “from the git”. Roger had a Uher tape machine which, though only the size of a thick book, could record professional, “broadcast quality”, sound. Combined with his professional voice, we could now execute broadcast quality demos to present my ideas to clients without the time and cost of booking a recording studio.
Our biggest goal was to create a new concept for Barney’s, at the time, the largest buyer of radio time in New York (11,000 60-second radio spots a year). We knew that the young president, Fred Pressman, son of Barney, was anxious to change the store profile from one of low prices and “plain pipe racks” to one of a fashionable, up-to-date, New York City Men’s Emporium, able to compete with Brooks Brothers. I believed that such a change would require years of commercial penetration of New York consciousness and that we should start well in advance of the physical changes Fred envisioned. Roger and I talked in depth about how radio talk show teams and news teams, kept listeners attention and altered their opinions on important matters. Finally, it came to us that two-man Barney’s male team, one given to conservative clothing a la Brooks Brothers the other to the new more fashionable menswear being created in Europe, would be the ideal voice of Barney’s. They would feature interviews with New Yorkers, visits to New York’s more prestigious locales, two-man discussions and arguments concerning taste in fashion and so on. We created a number of demo spots, using our voices for convenience. However, we intended to cast the two spokespersons very carefully, and knew that most actors would be delighted for a chance to be heard on New York radio 11,000 times a year. Once we had a dozen demo spots recorded, calling me “Jack Jordan” and Roger “Roger Day”. Keeping our first names, we felt would make our dialogue more natural in executing the demos. Roger than prepared a narrative on tape to present the concept to the client.
The presentation was made to Fred Pressman, president of Barney’s, Barney his father, and Emil Mogul, who upon his retirement had been signed up by Barney’s as an advertising consultant. I represented the creative side of the agency but Milton Guttenplan, long time Mogul Williams and Taylor executive was the account supervisor. I felt alone from the start because Milton, among other former partners of Emil, believed music was the heart of radio and jingles its best salesmen. The response was disheartening. Although Fred seemed to understand the purpose of the “change in voice” of Barney’s, the others were uniform in suggesting I come up with a new jingle instead.
Back at the agency, I discussed the outcome with Roger. We finally came to a decision. We would have to create more Jack and Roger demos to show the breadth of the idea in developing images of a new Barney’s.
Two weeks later, the same group assembled for my “new” radio presentation.
I said, “The last meeting indicated you all believed jingles are Barney’s way. No matter how hard I have tried to understand your position, I have to say jingles are the “Old Barney’s” way and stand for more of the same thing from Barney’s. That contradicts the management intention to have a new Barney’s, building new respect for its products, and new customers for its better shops. That’s all news. That is why we are proposing a “news” team and I am convinced this is the way for advertising to lay the groundwork for the changes you plan. I have more examples to show you why.”
Milton Guttenplan said, “Jesus!!”
Emil Mogul, in a very raised voice, said “Whaaat? What the hell kind of an agency man are you. Your client rejects your idea and you come back with the same idea! You want to lose the account? You want to blow everything I worked for??”
Barney said. “One hard-nosed goyem!”
Fred said, “Let’s hear what you brought.”
I played five new spots noting how each made an attack on “bad images” of Barney’s but maintained confident humor and expanded “good images” of Barney’s.
When done. All the critics continued to mumble above their breath about my “nerve”, “stupidity” and stuff.
Fred said, “You really believe this is the way to go, Jack”?
I said, “Without a single doubt.”
Fred said, “OK, here’s what you do. Prepare the ones you think best, say five or six, and put them on the air. No more presentations, no approvals, just what you feel works best for your idea. Just don’t get us sued or something. In a month we should know how they’re doing. Good Luck.”
And that was the end of the meeting. Emil looked stunned, Milton shook his head in apparent disbelief. Barney said, “Hard-nosed goyem meets ballsy jew!”
There was one more presentation. We recorded three pairs of highly respected radio voices to play the voices of Jordan and Day. I called Fred and said I just wanted his thoughts of which pair sounded best to his ears. Truth was, I was beginning to see, he had a certain strength in picking what was right for his plans.
Fred listened to the demos. His response: “Why don’t you and Roger do this? You sound more natural as a team. And, Jack, wouldn’t you as the writer be able to spin your own dialogue more honestly?”
And, that’s how the team was born.
One more thing happened. I had to clear the name, Jack Jordan, with AFTRA and, whoops, there already was a Jack Jordan on their roster. Roger and I sat and discussed a new name for Jack. One of us, said “Why not rhyme it with Day?” And, that’s how Jay & Day were born. Thousands of spots, a myriad of clients, hundreds of awards, forty years of partnership and everlasting friendship, grew out of that day.
Roger’s life history was as American as it gets. See: www.distanthunder.com/
He grew up in the “Old West”. His grandmother married a man who “killed the sheriff”. He grew up on a ranch, feeding horses and milking cows from the age of 6. He had a deep passion for flying and grew to be a heroic bomber pilot in WWII. Later working ion New York City in the export business, he met and fell in love with Rita Lupino, Ida Lupino’s sister. When Rita required surgery and moved to Beverly Hills to benefit from Ida’s care and Ida’s doctors, he followed her there and moved into an apartment above Ida’s garage. Ida enticed him to try acting and he ended up as a mini-star, appearing in such memorable films as 12 O’clock High and Rancho Notorious and hanging out with superstar buddies such as Erroll Flynn, Van Johnson, and even Clark Gable. One thing held him back from stardom, he looked too much like Spencer Tracy. But, nothing held back the Hollywood social life afforded by being a permanent house guest of Ida Lupino and her director husband, Collier Young. Roger had stories (but told reluctantly) of his relationship’s with Boris Karloff, Humphrey Bogart, Ronald Reagan, Dana Andrews, Caesar Romero, Joan Crawford, Marlena Dietrich, Dinah Shore, Cole Porter, Frank Sinatra and a score more of the “Big Names” in Hollywood. Many of them appear in his brief biography, “Distant Thunder” produced and edited by his daughter, April Anderson (Amazon and others).