Ahh, The Things You Do For Money
Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group
Fresh out of college, one of my first jobs was in advertising at Lennen & Newell, Inc., then a famous powerhouse Madison Avenue ad agency behemoth in Manhattan.
One of the accounts I worked on there was Kent Cigarettes with the Micronite Filter. Unfortunately, the filter turned out to be as unhealthy as the cigarette itself. I’m sorry if my work got anyone addicted. The agency went out of business in the early 1972.
Later, on the brighter side, at the New-York based PR firm Dudley-Anderson-Yutzy, I made up for my unwitting wrongdoing by promoting orange juice, bananas and Kellogg’s breakfast cereals, all good for you.
D-A-Y was a pioneering company in public relations. Among its notable successes was helping to increase the annual consumption of bananas in the U.S. by highlighting the fruit’s health benefits. To this day, I eat a banana a day.
It was also credited with popularizing orange juice in the 1930s as part of a campaign for the Florida Citrus Commission. Another client was Idaho potatoes.
I once took the governor of Idaho to dinner in Manhattan, but the restaurant only served (ugh) Long Island potatoes, which the waiter bragged were the best. I should have checked first about what potatoes they served.
Unfortunately, even the best PR firm’s records are not always all rosy.
To increase meat consumption, D-A-Y at the behest of its client the American Meat Institute, financed a two-year all meat and water diet for explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson. Well, you can’t win ‘em all.
My major client at D-A-Y in the late 1970s was Kellogg’s Company of Battle Creek, MI. At the time, the Federal Trade Commission was trying to break up snap, crackle and pop charging it was part of an oligopoly with the other cereal giants.
So I directed a crisis management campaign to save Tony the Tiger from extinction. I wrote compelling speeches for Kellogg’s Chairman that were reprinted in The New York Times. Bill LaMothe was so proud he would fly in on his private jet just to take me out to eat at the Plaza Hotel, alas for a CEREAL BREAKFASTS!
When I was at D-A-Y, it was owned by sisters Barbara Hunter and Jean Way Schoonover. The two had been employed at the firm since shortly after World War II. During their first month of ownership, they discovered that male account executives at D-A-Y were being paid at the rate of $25,000 per year, while females had a base salary of $18,000, a disparity they soon corrected.
Shortly after I left the firm to join American Broadcasting Companies just a few blocks away on 6th Ave as Director of PR Planning, the firm organized the celebration of the Brooklyn Bridge centennial, which Inc. called “the public relations triumph of 1983.”
At the time of the firm’s acquisition D-A-Y was considered the world’s oldest continually operating public relations firm. Ogilvy & Mather continued to operate D-A-Y as a separate division until 1988. My firm TransMedia Group, now in Boca Raton, FL is still going strong, having expanded to Rome, Italy and soon to Israel.
About the Author: Madden is the founder and CEO of the public relations firm TransMedia Group. Books he has written include SPIN MAN, King of the Condo, Is There Enough BRADY in TRUMP To Win The inSUPERable Bowl? and Love Boat 78. His blog, Madden Mischief.com finds him “Looking at Truth through the prism of Absurd.” Madden started out as a newspaper reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, then rose to the pinnacle of network television as Vice President, Assistant to the Pressident of NBC under then CEO Fred Silverman, for whom Madden wrote speeches when they were both at American Broadcasting Companies. Madden recently launched Madden Talent, a licensed talent agency representing actors, artists and models. Corporate titans like the Chairmen of Kellogg’s Company and AT&T looked to Madden to do crisis management and write influential speeches for them that were reprinted in The New York Times. Madden won the Public Relations Society of America’s Bronze Anvil for a PR campaign he conducted for The City of New York. Rexall Sundown Founder Carl DeSantis credits Madden’s publicity for the firm’s spectacular success, culminating in DeSantis selling the company in 2000 for $1.6 billion.