I had planned to acknowledge the passing of Phil Dusenberry somehow, but wasn't quite sure how. That is until I saw Steve Hayden's story in Ad Age. Steve Hayden is vice chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and worked with Mr. Dusenberry at BBDO from 1985 to 1994 before joining Ogilvy.
Hayden says Dusenberry's passing marked the end of the golden age of TV advertising, and called Dusenberry "the sun king" of that golden age. Others would say TV's Golden Age expired way before Dusenberry rose to power at BBDO and his big brand work wasn't really all that boundary-crossing. I have to admit he did some great work. And don't forget, he was responsbile for Michael Jackson's hair being set ablaze in that Pepsi spot!
His commitment to his clients at BBDO, including GE, Apple, FedEx and Pepsi, made him a modern-day Leo Burnett. I'm sure that, like Burnett, he was always working, concepting, creating, tinkering and all that on behalf of his clients and to the detriment of his personal life. Back in the eighties, he was one of the guys who made commercials more entertaining than the shows they sponsored, and transformed brands into pop icons with global reach. Yes, I agree with Hayden that some of the commercials were better than the shows on the tube back in the day. And if Phil Dusenberry was the guy behind that adverising, then yes, he was damn good.
Hayden says Dusenberry defined a good day as a day when the work was good. And vice versa. When I read that, I thought yeah, this was my kind of guy. He believed, as I do, that at the end of the day what matters is how the work holds up. So take a minute to think about the great work produced under the direction of Mr. Dusenberry, one of advertising's modern-day legends.