Sunday, July 1, 2012
As published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
June 28, 2012
Thanks to Bill McClellan for bringing back some great memories. Both KMOX Radio, led by Bob Hyland, and D’Arcy Advertising, bred by Jimmy Orthwein, generated decades of notable accomplishments, and when I arrived at D’Arcy in 1973 out of school they both had healthy, symbiotic relationships with Anheuser-Busch. AB owned the St. Louis Cardinals, and KMOX was their flagship station, generating millions of Redbird fans throughout the MidWest, early on with Harry Caray, Jack Buck and Joe Garagiola and later with Buck and Mike Shannon.
I grew up on Caray’s legendary broadcasts (“It might be, it could be – it is! A home run! Ho-lee Cow!”) and graduated Missouri’s School of Journalism when Marching Mizzou still played “When You Say Bud, You’ve Said It All” at halftime, to rousing frat boy ovations. So when I joined the Budweiser team at D’Arcy it was like getting to heaven without having to die first. By the time I moved to New York 10 years later I was responsible for all of D’Arcy’s AB business – Budweiser, Michelob, Mich Light, Natural Light and their corporate advertising. In between we launched “This Bud’s for You” and made advertising – and marketing – history.
Sharing the same building with KMOX just seemed right, and it was magic. With a basement-parking place you never knew who you’d share an elevator with. Buck, Highland, Bob Costas – who back then was announcing the St. Louis Spirits, fresh out of Syracuse University (“Yes!”). Bob Starr, Bob Hardy, Rex Davis. Jack Carney. Fando’s was the bar we shared, connected to our building and accessible through a second floor entrance.
Early on there was a direct partnership between KMOX and D’Arcy. With D’Arcy’s Dolan Walsh at the lead, and on behalf of our mutual client, Anheuser-Busch, the agency literally put together what today remains to this day one of the largest, strongest MLB radio networks in the country. Town by town, station by station, Dolan single-handedly brought dozens of stations into the KMOX network to carry the St. Louis Cardinal baseball games. And each subsequent spring he would revisit each station during the Cardinal’s Grapefruit League regular season warm ups to … extend the relationships - an absolute must business trip – and well deserved. When “D” died they all gathered to pay tribute – Anheuser-Busch, KMOX and D’Arcy alums, and stood in honor as one of his grandchildren carried a silver tray down the aisle with a long-neck bottle of Budweiser, and a Pilsner glass, and set it on the alter. Knowing Dolan, he poured it with the appropriate 1½” collar of foam and had a last, quintessential quaff of the King of Beers.
More memories come back …
One late night in Fando’s a couple of us have already grown Budweiser’s market share in a single sitting, and here’s Bob Costas regaling us with his imitations of Art Fern, the Johnny Carson character. I ran in to Costas at LaGuardia Airport a couple of years ago and reminded him of that night, and he actually remembered it. And admitted it.
Many a night sitting in the KMOX broadcast booth at Busch Stadium, right there with Jack Buck and Mike Shannon. Jack was a wonderful guy, a genuine man for all seasons, someone to aspire to, and I did. Of course I got to know Jack given our mutual work for AB, which I consider a gift to this day. One time I tried to tell him how much he meant to me and he wouldn’t hear of it. Simple humility.
One morning I forgot my card pass into our underground parking lot, and had to sit there and wait for somebody to pull in behind me so I could borrow theirs. Soon enough here comes that somebody – it was Jack. “Sure,” he says, “here.” ‘Course, Jack didn’t come to work till about 11am…
What seemed like dozens of Steuben Glass sculptures displayed in Highland’s KMOX office. The gravity of all of it didn’t fully register with me until I stopped in Steuben’s store – museum? on Fifth Avenue in New York City – not to shop, to gape. (By the way, after decades, Steuben closed their store the end of last year – another sign of the times).
Mike Roarty was AB’s CMO back then, a larger than life figure who could hold his own on stage with Bob Hope – and did, at one of AB’s spectacular wholesaler conventions. Mike was the glue back then, for all of us, and a dear friend of Buck’s. Mike retired in 1994 and still resides there in St. Louis with his wife Lee. Revered, then and now.
When I started at D’Arcy there were some 450 people working there, supporting not only our efforts for Anheuser-Busch, but also Red Lobster, Southwestern Bell, Ozark Airlines, Brown Shoe and many Ralston Purina accounts. (D’Arcy also had the McDonald’s business through the early ‘50’s!). A vital, thriving advertising agency. When the office closed in 2002 there were less than 50 employees. They didn’t move to New York, they folded, having lost virtually all of their business. I went back for the wake. Terrible. Must have been what KMOX felt like when they lost the Cardinals. No, worse.
One thing’s for sure: we never hid a martini behind a Budweiser at lunch. We drank Budweisers. At lunch. Every day. And the Michelob guys (guys, gender neutral – there were women on all of our beer accounts) drank Mich. Etc. Another truth: it wasn’t at one of these lunches that somebody came up with “This Bud’s for You.” It was back at the office. And it came from a jingle lyric written by Larry Stillman, D’Arcy St. Louis’ creative director, who despite his position had little to do with our beer business. But he’d written this lyric, and buried in it was the phrase, “For all you do, this Bud’s for you.” It was left to another copywriter to recognize it for what it was, a young guy named Dave Allemeier, and turn it into a campaign idea. The rest of us had the good sense to say, “yeah, damn, that’s a good idea!” Any other version of the creation of “This Bud’s for You” is simply wrong, and likely self-serving.
Finally, it was time for me to move on, and I was able to leverage my beer experience into a fabulous job with the J. Walter Thompson agency in New York. The afternoon that I turned in my resignation I took my ex-employee self down to Fando’s, pull up to the clean crisp taste of a Budweiser and wonder what the hell I’m in for now, when somebody passing by wants to know what I’m doing there – you know, between lunch and after work. It was Jack Buck, coming in to work, and when I tell him what’s going on he sits down next to me, orders us both Budweisers and proceeds to tell me all about New York City, the good restaurants, the great bars, the museums.
I’ll never forget it, or him. Or any of the other wonderful memories from the best ten years of my advertising life.
Croton on Hudson, NY