Bios/Canadian Copywriter
   bios of Tom McElligott, Nancy Rice, Ed McCabe, Roy Grace, Steve Hayden.

Something struck as we researched the "big names" in advertising. The majority struggled to find their niche. Sure, they had talent, but they seemed constantly daunted by their never-ending search for their creative outlet, until that one fateful day when the "other foot dropped". We identified with their search because we had all been there in one form or another. The advertising industry is mercurial and for every true artist in the business there also happens to be a charlatan who would "rather just make money". Often, the "money" concept beats out the creative concept hands down. (Hey, it's tough to feed your family with awards). Hence, the opportunity to create unique advertising may be lost in an effort to please the client (and sometimes the client isn't right, although ((we hasten to add)) the client may be right too.) The people profiled here have dedicated their lives to fresh, unique, outstanding advertising. Luckily they found their niche (talent, of course, helped them find a competitive edge. The bottom line is that "where there's a will, there's a way!" It is our fervent hope that you too will eventually find that "perfect job" that takes full advantage of your talent! But, like these people, you can't just stop and throw in the towel! Ya gotta put the pedal to the metal! Ya gotta go for it! (bunkie)


Tom McElligott



Tom McElligott was a classic underachiever in high school, however, after graduation, he was lucky enough to get a job as a tour guide at a brewery.At one of the brewery's parties, he discovered a classified ad for copywriters in a copy of Advertising Age. The position -- a copywriter for the Dayton-Hudson department store -- was open for a long time because the copy chief, a perfectionist was asking the candidates to re-write some ads. Everyone did, but so far nobody had come back with anything he deemed worthwhile. McElligott took him up on the challenge and was immediately hired. Two months after he took the job, he was promoted to become a supervisor of more senior people. Eventually, he wound up writing all the broadcast for the store. And he loved it!

One weekend, he was at a garage sale and met another copywriter who suggested he try to find a job in an advertising agency. He took the copywriter's advice and researched all the agencies in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul area that interested him. One of the agencies, Campbell-Mithun, offered him a good job at a good salary. Later that same day, Knox-Reeves also offered a job for a $1,000 less. "I took the job at Knox-Reeves because it seemed like a better opportunity," he says.

At Knox-Reeves, Tom had met a fellow by the name of Ron Anderson who became his mentor. Over the next eight years, Tom and Ron developed a mutual admiration society as Tom learned what was good and what was just plain silly.
Eventually, Tom's work came to the attention of the Creative Director at BBDO, The Creative Director phoned him up to talk. He suggested that McElligott's work showed promise, but he should read all the awards manuals to see what truly great work is. McElligott did just that. Now, he was on a roll.

Eventually, Knox-Reeves merged with Bozell and Jacobs and McElligott became the Creative Director. He was the designated "troubleshooter" for accounts that were in trouble. This is when he honed his skills as a marketing copywriter. It wasn't enough to present good ideas. Those ideas had to mesh with the client's advertising objectives.
Eventually, McElligott opened his own agency with two of his working friends at the agency. It was called Fallon, McElligott Rice. The agency operated on the principle of developing brilliant work -- and if the client consistently rejected brilliant ideas, the agency simply resigned the account. McElligott was always fair, sometimes getting into heated discussions with his staff, but he bowed to popular opinion. It was for this reason that Fallon, McElligott Rice grew to over 140 employees -- and put Minneapolis on the advertising map.

The company drew the attention of many other advertising agencies -- one of which -- Scali, McCabe, Sloves acquired them. However, Scali McCabe was a larger agency that was more interested in the bottom line than great creative. McElligott was frustrated and left the agency. He returned to the industry in 1989, joining Chiat/Day, where he spent nine months travelling across the States and Canada. Eventually, that too tired him out and he returned to Minneapolis to start a new agency -- McElligott, Wright, Morrison and White. This new agency started out with hope and promise, but those mutual goals eventually faded. When McElligott was away judging the Cannes Film Festival, his partners staged a "palace coup". They tried to remove him as the Creative Director and fire his copywriter. Their actions eventually led to the agency's demise. The last we heard, Tom McElligott was in Hawaii writing a book.

Nancy Rice


Nancy Rice started out as an illustrator. Her first job was in a local art studio where she worked as a layout artist. After about a year and a half, Nancy was fired. Why? Her boss informed her that while the company liked her a lot, and liked what she was doing, they thought she'd be better off working at an advertising agency. What a load, huh? Of course, she was hurt, but she took their advice and started pounding the pavement for a job at an advertising agency -- and, of course, we all know what that's like. She didn't have a car and her spirits were beginning to feel as sore as her feet. Finally, the last agency she tried hired her. It was Knox-Reeves. There, she worked as an illustrator, but had no idea what she was doing for years. She was constantly fearful for her job, but she began to get better and better at her craft. Although she was doing the "dirty" work that the senior staff didn't want, she polished every ad to diamond brilliance. Finally, when she did a small ad for a local liquor store and won several national awards for her efforts, eyebrows began to rise. People began to realize that Nancy Rice had talent. Over her years at Knox-Reeves, she eventually rose to become an Executive Art Director and the first female Vice Chairman in the organization. At the agency, she eventually met Tom McElligott who was "just another writer."

Together, with McElligott and another partner, they formed Fallon, McElligott, Rice which was eventually hailed as one of the more brilliant advertising agencies in the States -- all done out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Eventually, of course, Rice had a falling out with her partners and left Fallon, McElligott Rice to form her own agency with her husband. It was called "Rice and Rice" and again upheld her creative reputation for another five years. Today, Rice works with a much larger organization -- DDB Needham.

Ed McCabe


Ed McCabe learned all he knew about life in the streets. After dropping out of high school, he had numerous brushes with the law, but he finally got himself together. An employment agency recruiter tried hard to get him a copywriter job with the catalogs, but nobody was interested. The recruiter was finally exasperated and told him that he might as well just lie about having a high school diploma. He sent him for an interview with McCann-Erickson. McCabe got the job, but it wasn't the one he wanted. It was in the mail room. But that didn't set him back. From the mail room he applied his street-fighting smarts to ask for a transfer to the art department where he worked emptying water pots and cleaning brushes. Always with his eyes open, he noticed that one copywriter was behind in his work because he was having an affair with a woman in the art department. He offered to help him by writing ads on the sly. The copywriter took advantage of his offer. McCabe continued to write secretively, building up his portfolio. When the time was right, he went to the Creative Director to show him his samples and ask for a job as a copywriter. The Creative Director refused. Ed McCabe didn't have a college diploma! McCabe was upset and quit! He went to Automatic Electric and the first ad he wrote for them won an award. After a year or two at Automatic, he noticed the work being done at Doyle Dane Bernbach and desperately wanted a job with that kind of agency, but he had to settle for an industrial agency job with General Electric. Typically, he was assigned to work on subjects such as thermionic integrated micro modules. His goal was to translate the gobbledygook into English. And like Hayden, he credits this experience for his later success. He finally broke into the big time with a job at Benton Bowles, but after a few years of dealing with clients who weren't interested in "unique" ads, he finally quit. Still, he wanted a job at Doyle Dayne Bernbach, but they wouldn't give him one. He got a job with another agency and started to win awards for clients such as Chung King and Elgin watches. But he was unhappy with their management style and quit. His next stop: Young & Rubicam, but he felt like a misfit and quit. Then, finally he found his feet at an agency called Carl Alley. There he won four golden awards in his first year and finally Doyle Dane Bernbach offered him a job. But internal politics forced Doyle Dayne Bernbach to rescind their offer -- and McCabe took it well. He got wind that Sam Scali was starting an ad agency and phoned him for a job. That's when the famous Scali McCabe Sloves got started -- and their creative was known around the world.



Roy Grace



Roy Grace is a study in "struggles". Ultimately, he worked his way up to Chairman of Doyle, Dayne Bernbach but he took a long time to get there. After walking the streets for months, he finally landed a job as an apprentice inker at Famous Studios, Paramount's East Coast Division, which is the company that produces all the animation for the Paramount cartoons -- Popeye, Tubby, Baby Huey, Tom and Jerry, Little Lulu and Casper The Friendly Ghost. He actually did quite well at this job since the pressure never got to him. But he wanted more. He wanted to be an illustrator. To do that, however, he needed more education so he took night classes at the School of Visual Arts. But that only made him think twice about being an illustrator. He turned into a messenger for the studio, then a clean-up press person. His career was stalling, so he decided to join the army. Ironically, he became an illustrator for the Army. When he was discharged, he landed his first big job as a graphic artist for a packaging mechanical company. But this was a high-precision job (dies were cast from his workups) and he couldn't do it. He was fired!
After this job, he landed another where the work wasn't as precise and he was a star. But Roy was restless and went back to school at Cooper Union. One of his teachers, an Art Director/Supervisor at Benton Bowles offered Grace a job as an apprentice. This was his twenty fifth job. Grace took to advertising very quickly and went from being an apprentice to working on national accounts in a short six months. But a photo rep suggested that he send his portfolio to Grey Advertising. He did and doubled his salary. But when he went to Grey, he was working on television commercials, which he found frustrating.     "I floundered," he says. But that's the best way to learn. It's the best teacher in the world. Nobody does anything that's an immediate success".
    The first commercials he art directed were for Proctor & Gamble. Luckily, they were the old style commercials so any mistakes he made weren't glaring errors.
   After more than 27 jobs -- quite a lot for a twenty seven year old, Grace applied to Doyle Dayne Bernbach. He was offered the job but at a pay cut. He refused the pay cut and got the job anyway. He stayed there for twenty seven years, although he did stray twice and eventually became Chairman of the whole shebang!
    Inevitably, though, Grace's happy feet had him moving again. He decided to form his own agency with Diane Rothschild, a writer. Today, the agency has over forty five employees and bills over $85 million.

Steve Hayden



Hayden started out as a budding cellist, but according to his own reviews: "I wasn't very good". He had enrolled at UCLA to study with Gregor Piatigorsky but instead of reaching Carnegie Hall he wound up playing bar mitzvahs. He started writing and his work came to the attention of the English department and he became an English major, keeping music as a minor

After college, he married and moved to Michigan where his wife was working on her Masters Degree. He supported himself by playing cello but when the money ran out, he applied for a job in advertising.

He worked for an industrial advertising agency where he quickly learned that he couldn't lie when he wrote (that's because engineers and others know a great deal about their products than a copywriter will ever know) and he learned to research quickly.

As time went on, Steve went from one industrial shop to another until a new twist in his career happened. A major L.A. agency by the name of Clinton E. Frank recruited him as a creative strategy planner for Toyota. A year and a half later, he was offered a promotion to "account executive", but declined and asked for a job in the creative department.

"Strategy planning was grim, compared to the silliness in the creative department", he says. "I wanted to be with the silly people".

Steve was given the job of full-time copywriter. Within a year and a half, he was promoted to Group Supervisor on the Toyota account. Then, in 1975, two events happened that changed his life. His father died and the agency lost the Toyota account. Both these events triggered some soul searching. Clinton E. Frank tried to hang on, but eventually closed

Luckily, Hayden had just sold a script to "Welcome Back Kotter", which was produced and aired and he thought he was well on the way to becoming a television writer. He wrote for other television shows, but still needed other work so he accepted a free-lance job at yet another small industrial agency. This small advertising agency proved to be his leaping board to greater things. A couple of small ads he created for the agency drew national attention and soon clients such as Time Magazine and Universal Pictures were demanding his talents. So he decided to give up television writing and get serious about advertising.

Courted by many agencies, he accepted a position at Foote, Cone and Belding. He got the job because he worked on Toyota and the agency wanted him to work on Mazda but he resigned twelve months later.

But Jay Chiat of Chiat/Day was interested in him. He worked as a copywriter there on the Apple account, creating a slew of award-winning ads. However, when he was publicly critical of the MacIntosh group, he was asked to leave the account. He did -- but he didn't quit the agency. He stuck around to write some more incredible ads for Apple II.

Then, a huge offer came in from Tracey Locke. They wanted Hayden to start the Los Angeles office and run the $50 million Taco Bell account. This was too good to be true -- and it was! When Steve presented his concept for Taco Bell as "Burgers? We don't want no stinking burgers" both the client and the agency were horrified. The agency told him to "shape up or ship out" -- so he shipped out. He went back to Chiat/Day, who had forgiven him for his transgressions with MacIntosh. Hayden is still there to this day.


TOP 100 AMERICAN AD PROS OF THE CENTURY  William Bernbach      Marion Harper Jr.      Leo Burnett      David Ogilvy      Rosser Reeves      John Wanamaker      William Paley      Maurice Saatchi and Charles Saatchi      Albert Lasker      Jay Chiat      F. Wayland Ayer      Helmut Krone      Neil McElroy      Stanley Resor and Helen Lansdowne Resor      Bruce Barton      Martin Sorrell      Henry Luce      Lee Clow      Mary Wells Lawrence      Alfred Sloan      John Caples      Dan Wieden and David Kennedy      Howard Luck Gossage      Shirley Polykoff      Joyce Hall      Ray Kroc      Allen Rosenshine      Claude C. Hopkins      Ted Turner      Hal Riney      Phil Dusenberry      C. "Ike" Herbert      Bob Gage      Conde Nast      John Smale      Bruce Crawford      John E. Kennedy      John B. Watson      Steve Jobs      Phyllis K. Robinson      William Randolph Hearst      Philip Geier      Jane Trahey      John H. Johnson      George Gallup      Raymond Rubicam      Keith Reinhard      Carl Ally and Amil Gargano      Charlotte Beers      David Sarnoff      George Batten      James Webb Young      Jack Tinker      Lee Iacocca      Don Belding      Theodore F. MacManus      Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver      Charles Austin Bates      Stan Freberg      Rupert Murdoch      Harrison King McCann      Bernice Fitz-Gibbon      Joe Sedelmaier      Theodore L. Bates      Howard Zieff      J. Walter Thompson      Robert Jacoby      Arthur Godfrey      A.C. Nielsen Sr    .  James H. McGraw Sr    .  Jerry Della Femina      Ben Duffy      Earnest Elmo Calkins      George Lois      Michael Jordan      Theodore Repplier      Roone Arledge      Thomas J. Burrell      G.D. Crain Jr.      Emerson Foote      Bill Backer      Joe Pytka      Fairfax Cone      Daniel Starch      John E. Powers      Victor O. Schwab      Michael Ovitz      Cyrus H.K. Curtis      Howard H. Bell      Richard Lord      * Michael Eisner      Al Achenbaum      Steve Frankfurt      Lester Wunderman      Peggy Charren      Frank Hummert      Sam Vitt      Cliff Freeman      Vance Packard      Stephen M. Case    


* Disney War makes good reading if you're not a Michael Eisner fan