Raymond Rubicam, Advertising’s Statesman
Raymond Rubicam (June 16, 1892 – May 8, 1978) was one of the twentieth century’s advertising giants. He was a great copy writer, whose work is remembered and admired even today. Started as a copy writer with N.W. Ayer & Son in Philadelphia, Rubicam demonstrated leadership, teaching managerial and innovative capabilities very early. In 1923, denied a partnership, the high school dropout and his college-educated colleague John Orr Young, started an agency Young & Rubicam, which later became one of the most respected advertising agencies in the world. In fact, when Raymond Rubicam retired to Arizona in 1944, Young & Rubicam was the second largest advertising agency in the world. He was recognized as advertising’s statesman.
Speaking of Raymond Rubicam, the legendary David Ogilvy said, “ He taught me that advertising can sell without being dishonest.”
To Rubicam, the way to sell through advertising was to get read first. And the way to get read is to say more about the reader and less about your product. He once wrote, “ Mirror the reader to himself and then show him afterwards how your product fits his needs.” He pioneered the notion of being consumer oriented. He always insisted:Understand the consumer.
During his career, Raymond Rubicam received numerous honors. He was chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies in 1935 and was given the gold medal for distinguished service to advertising. In 1974, he was named to the American Advertising Federation’s Hall of Fame and the next year to the Group’s Copywriter’s Hall of Fame. He was only the second living person ever elected to the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame.
Rubicam believed the content of advertising – copy and art – were the drivers of the business. He knew there was one sure way to stand out among the ad agency crowd. That’s Resisting the usual. Ideas need to be based on facts. Try to know more than your competitors do about the market, and put that knowledge into the hands of writers and artists with imagination and broad human sympathies.
Raymond Rubicam was a genius at picking big men and standing on their shoulders. He persuaded George Gallup (famous for his Gallup Polls), who was a professor of journalism at Northwestern University to join his agency to head the advertising research wing. Gallup, despite many other lucrative offers from other ad agencies, joined Rubicam as Vice President, Research in 1932. At Young & Rubicam, he pioneered new methods to research consumers’ preferences, prejudices, and their reading and radio-listening practices. Raymond Rubicam and Gallup brought a number of innovations to the advertising business.
- At a time when advertising was supposed to be earnest to be effective, Rubicam injected humor into ads.
- Young & Rubicam became the first agency to create comic book ads run in the Sunday comics. He developed a sequence-picture copy, which is an adaptation of dramatic and comic-strip technique to ads.
- They pioneered ads with short first paragraphs and headlines no more than 11 words long.
- The agency was the first to measure radio listening by scientific sampling.
- Started Y&R Research, a trust fund, profit-sharing and bonuses.
Rubicam will always be remembered forever some of the advertising’s most memorable pieces that he created for Steinway, Squibb and Rolls-Royce among others. Steinway’s The instrument of the Immortals, Squibb’s The Priceless Ingredient and Rolls-Royce’s No Rolls-Royce has ever worn out rank among the one hundred greatest advertisements during the twentieth century.