A Big Wheel of Madison Avenue Signaling Success


After my work on the Concord Watch campaign, and having left the Wall Street Journal, I was tapped for other illustration projects at Ogilvy. Ross Sutherland, among the most talented Creative Directors I have ever worked with, kept me busy in the late eighties. It is only now, in pulling together pieces for this post, do I realize how generous this A/D was to me.

Ross hired me on a number of occasions. One of the assignments I had involved the art of signing, or sign language. It was a campaign for IBM when computers were starting to go mainstream in a big way. I only have these graphic remnants to show here…

signing hands*



Another ad we did together was for AT&T. It shows the brilliance of this Ad man, in my opinion. Ross got his hands on an ancient copy of the Boy Scouts manual, so I could get familiar with the Semaphore system of signaling. I produced a bunch of b&w illustrations (the color was applied by the agency, Ogilvy and Mather) depicting scouts utilizing their flags. I’ll present this to you as the entire double-page spread, then a couple of details that express the heart of the ad and its brilliant copy. Finally, a close-up of the worthy scouts who volunteered for this action.


semaphore~detail1 semaphore~detail2


Lastly, I must relate a personal anecdote. Ross’s deputy A/D knew I was preparing for my next ad in the Black Book. She pulled me aside one day and said, “Why don’t you get him to write your next ad for you?” I was quite taken aback by the idea, and not sure if it might be pushing my luck. But, I did ask him, and the result was the following prodigious piece of advertising.

1988 black book ad


Aside from the Concord watches, we’ve got some star-power going on here: Peter O’Toole, and two hedcut portraits I produced for the Journal, Frank Lloyd Wright and Gloria Swanson.

I am humbled that this big wheel of Madison Avenue deigned to pay me such an honor! If you’re out there reading this, Mr. Sutherland, a big shout-out from Kevin Sprouls —-THANKS!

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