1966. Though it was a very long time ago, I still remember vividly the DDB Christmas Party at the Waldorf Astoria.
First there were the horse drawn carriages that lined up in front of 20 West 43rd street to take us to the hotel. Lap blankets and hot rum drinks were provided for the trip over. When we arrived in the lobby everyone was handed a Mont Blanc pen.
Even though I was new and had only started in the bullpen three months ago, I was seated with Helmut Krone, Phyllis Robinson, and Bob Gage. The champagne and conversation flowed. They all complimented me on my portfolio and thanked me for choosing the DDB bullpen as the place to launch my career. I, of course, was forced to compliment them in return.
The meal consisted of, from what I can recall, oysters with vinegar and shallot, or fois gras with seasonal fruit, a choice of lobster with coriander broth, or filet of lamb “au jus” with artichoke hearts and carrots. This was followed by a few choice desserts from Sherry’s coffee shop on west 44th street.
I think the highlight of the event was the appearance of Ned Doyle, Mac Dane and Bill Bernbach serenading the crowd with “The Little Drummer Boy” dressed as The Three Kings. Wending their way from table to table, they dispersed the annual Christmas bonuses which were wrapped in papyrus.
Of course the agency reel was shown. We were forced to sit through the usual commercials that had swept every category in every award show that year. After all the speeches and the handing out of awards, I was singled out as the most promising newcomer.
As the evening started to wind down and after The Beach Boys had wrapped up their 12 song set, my boss, Lee Epstein, dropped by and whispered to me that starting March 1st (the time we return to work after the holiday break) they would be jacking my starting salary of $4,800 up to $50,000. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised.
As we were leaving, I turned to Bob Gage. “Bob” I said (we were on a first name basis at this point) “are the Christmas parties like this every year”? “Sure”, he said, why do you think I stick around”?
DDB Art Director