Thursday, July 2, 2009

ad broad who invented the lemon

George Lois recounts the birth of DDB's Volkswagen ad "Lemon", attributing copy not to Julian Koenig who was Helmut Krone's partner (and named in awards) but to a woman in her 50s who worked for Koenig: Rita Selden. The report differs somewhat from what I had heard. But Lois was there. I go with his story. (From the film troves of Imseng)

UPDATE: The true story of Rita Selden is being written by her niece, Harriet Reisen, a biographer who recalls many colorful details about her glam aunt. One of them: Selden once arrived to their Jersey Shore summer house in a yellow cab hailed on Madison Avenue. Promises to be a great read for ad broads of any era.

7 comments:

Teenie said...

I've often wondered how many women's accomplishments have been attributed to men. Seems to me like there've always been brilliant, powerful women out there--yet some men found it necessary to take the credit.

And sincerely--the weaker sex? Woman had yay many kids way back when, and spent most of their lives cooking, cleaning, sewing, taking care of kids, producing new ones, and doing half the farm work. They could multitask like nobody's business. Yeesh.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Oh, dear. While I'm in complete agreement with your suspicion, Teenie, that plenty of women's accomplishments go unsung, it turns out the Lemon ad might not be one of them. See post above.

Anonymous said...

Teenie, give it a rest. This isn't a men-women thing. Ad people rip other ad people off all the time. Men or women. I've had a bunch of work ripped off myself.

Jlo0312 said...

A forty year feud? A couple of EGO hounds that are acting like little girls. Split the credit...move on

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

@Anonymous Of course, rape happens to both sexes. But, I believe women are more often the victims of it.

@Jlo0312 Four decades does seem a bit long to hold a grudge, doesn't it? But focus power helped account for their talent as ad men...

Harriet Reisen said...

Rita Selden was my aunt, and this version of the lemon ad story was told to me by Wm. Bernbach himself. Since I found Rita's suicide note at the age of 17, I have been obsessed with Rita's story, I interviewed many of her colleagues in advertising, as well as family and friends. David Ogilvy told me that she invented the format of bold declarative headline, big picture, and minimal text ad that has been credited to him.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Wow. Harriet. Amazing. Thanks so much for sharing this story. Would love to talk with you more about it, if you're willing. helenkleinross@gmail.com