Most of the commercials we produced were thirty- and sixty-second spots for products like Maxwell House Coffee, Vicks Vaporub, Ajax (bum-bum, the foaming cleanser), Colgate Dental Cream, and other household products. Technically speaking, these early ads were the simplest work imaginable. There’s a dancing coffee pot or some such thing with a jingle about Maxwell House exploding flavor buds; cut to a man tasting a steaming cup of coffee while his lovely, crisp wife looks on expectantly; cut to the best take of his reaction (“Hmm, that’s delicious!”); cut to the sign-off; and you’re through. But nothing is ever that simple in the advertising business.
This kind of work was all right for a week or two. It had its curiosities. But after a few months at Tempo, I was morose and close to broken, for I knew I was using almost none of the skills that had landed me the job in the first place. At night bad dreams about exploding flavor buds and foaming cleansers with catchy jingles and forced smiles began to bother me. In the one nightmare I still recall, I was stuffed into a Maxwell House jar and exploded into ten thousand pieces when they poured the boiling water on me.
When The Shooting Stops … The Cutting Begins
Ralph Rosenblum, Robert Karen