Len Sirowitz, Whose Bold, Offbeat Ads Captured an Era, Dies at 91

Len Sirowitz, Whose Bold, Offbeat Ads Captured an Era, Dies at 91


Len Sirowitz, an award-winning promoting artwork director whose artistic work within the Nineteen Sixties included memorable print adverts for the Volkswagen Beetle — like one declaring, “Ugly is barely skin-deep” — and a marketing campaign for Mobil during which a automobile was dropped off a 10-story constructing to make a degree concerning the perils of rushing, died on March 4 at his residence in Manhattan. He was 91.

His daughter, Laura Sirowitz, confirmed the loss of life.

Mr. Sirowitz joined the influential Doyle Dane Bernbach promoting company, generally known as DDB, in 1959, at 27, and spent the following 11 years on the agency conceiving the look of adverts for quite a few accounts with wit and keenness.

It was fairly early in my profession that I started to understand that my message wanted to not solely be daring and daring, but it surely should stem from the reality … and contact folks’s feelings,” he instructed Dave Dye, who runs the promoting weblog From the Loft, in 2015.

Volkswagen was maybe Mr. Sirowitz’s most vital account, and the homely Beetle, nicknamed the “Bug,” was his and copywriter Robert Levenson’s automotive muse. Their collaborations for the German automobile maker included the advert “Will We Ever Kill the Bug?” during which they positioned a Beetle turned on its roof, like a useless bug. The reply to the query: “By no means.” (Although, after just a few photographs of the automobile, its roof collapsed.)

The pair additionally devised an advert that confirmed a motley Beetle constructed of inexperienced and beige fenders, a blue hood and a turquoise door, which had been cobbled collectively from fashions between 1958 and 1964. The advert harassed the benefit with which house owners might discover components.

For Sara Lee, Mr. Sirowitz and Mr. Levenson created a TV industrial during which folks handled annoyances like haircuts and site visitors jams, then consoled themselves with a chunk of the corporate’s cake, introducing a soon-to-be enduring jingle: “All people doesn’t like one thing / However no person doesn’t like Sara Lee.”

For Mobil’s public service newspaper and TV adverts about freeway security, Mr. Sirowitz illustrated how crashing at 60 miles per hour would have the identical impression as a automobile dropping from 10 tales. “And it’ll get you to precisely the identical place — the morgue,” the narrator stated.

One other TV advert for Mobil confirmed a pair canoodling in a automobile as the person drives in opposition to the blinding lights of oncoming site visitors, ultimately resulting in a crash. A narrator says: “We at Mobil promote gasoline and oil. We’re in favor of driving and love, however not on the similar time.”

And for the Higher Imaginative and prescient Institute, an affiliation of lens and body producers, Mr. Sirowitz produced dozens of promotions that ran in Life journal persuading folks to have their eyes examined extra typically. One notably dramatic advert ran in all-black with copy by Leon Meadows studying, “That is how yellow daisies in a inexperienced pasture in opposition to a blue sky look to many People.”

One other of Mr. Sirowitz’s adverts for the Higher Imaginative and prescient Institute, a lot of which ran in Life journal. He was heralded for his creativity and innovation in such campaigns.Credit score…Doyle Dane Bernbach for Higher Imaginative and prescient Institute

Bob Isherwood, a former worldwide artistic director of Saatchi & Saatchi, referred to as Mr. Sirowitz a “hero artwork director” for his move of recent concepts and completely different approaches.

“It was simply an concept that he placed on the web page,” he stated in a telephone interview. “Whenever you see adverts like that you just suppose, ‘Oh, God, I want I had completed that.’”

Leonard Sirowitz was born on June 25, 1932, in Brooklyn. His father, Abraham Sirowitz, immigrated from Ukraine in 1905 and held varied jobs, together with taxi driver and jewellery polisher. His mom, Sadie (Schoenwetter) Sirowitz, ran the house.

Len Sirowitz in 1985. He was inducted into the Artwork Administrators Membership Corridor of Fame the identical 12 months, together with his work described as “clever and human.”Credit score…through Sirowitz Household

Mr. Sirowitz’s ardour for drawing led to research on the Artwork College students League of New York in Manhattan at age 12 and, two years later, his acceptance to the Excessive College of Music and Artwork (now the Fiorello H. LaGuardia Excessive College of Music & Artwork and Performing Arts). There, he met his future spouse, Myrna Florman, a music pupil generally known as Mickey, when he was 17 and he or she was 14.

Mr. Sirowitz graduated in 1953 from the Pratt Institute, the place he earned a bachelor’s diploma in promoting. He spent the following two years within the Military, largely at Fort Dix in New Jersey, and he married Miss Florman throughout his service in January 1955. She survives him, alongside together with his daughter; a son, Michael; and one grandson.

After his Military discharge, Mr. Sirowitz labored on the L.W. Frohlich pharmaceutical advert company in addition to Gray Promoting, CBS and Channel 13, the general public TV station in New York.

Along with working for DDB’s industrial purchasers like Sony, the place Mr. Sirowitz created a whimsical marketing campaign primarily based on the portability of its four-inch-wide TV, he additionally took on political causes as a volunteer.

A full-page newspaper advert in 1965 for the Nationwide Committee for a Sane Nuclear Coverage confirmed a cockroach in opposition to a white background with the headline: “The Winner of World Struggle III.”

One other advert in 1968, for the Coalition for a Democratic Various, carried, in large letters, the headline “For what?” Under it, textual content by Dave Reider, a copywriter, described the hopelessness of the Vietnam Struggle, demanded that President Lyndon B. Johnson step down and argued for Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota to be the Democratic nominee for president.

Mr. Sirowitz was DDB’s senior vice chairman and affiliate artistic director when he left in 1970 to type his personal company, Harper Rosenfeld Sirowitz as co-chairman and co-creative director. (It was renamed quite a few occasions through the years.) By then he had been voted artwork director of the 12 months for 1968 and 1970 in nationwide polls by Advert Weekly. He was inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in 1985.

His company’s purchasers included Swissair, McDonald’s, Smith Corona and Royal Caribbean Cruises. Nonetheless, in 1995, the agency closed after dropping a number of accounts, and Mr. Sirowitz joined the agency Ryan Drossman & Partners as vice chairman.

He quickly retired and returned to the Artwork College students League, the place he drew large-format, charcoal nude portraits 4 days per week till the beginning of the pandemic.

“I attempt for daring, dramatic interpretations of the mannequin’s pose, drawn with spontaneous sweeping traces, and most significantly it must be a part of a powerful, well-designed composition,” he instructed the establishment’s journal, Lines from the League, in its 2012-13 concern.

His composition model got here by clearly in his advert campaigns, together with one in 1991 for America West Airways, during which he solid the improvisational comic Jonathan Winters — wanting robust and carrying camouflage — in a parody of Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who had lately commanded U.S. troops within the Gulf Struggle.

The ad declared, “Saying Air Superiority for Civilians,” and provided airfares discounted by as much as 40 %.

The marketing campaign, nonetheless, was rebuked by the group Veterans of Overseas Wars for being in poor style, and America West quickly after filed for Chapter 11 chapter safety.

“To me, nice promoting ought to make your palms sweat,” Mr. Sirowitz instructed The Related Press. “America West is the smallest of the most important airways. We wished to do to the type of promoting that will put them on the map in a single fell swoop.”

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