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date: 01 April 2020

Bernbach, Williamlocked

(13 August 1911–02 October 1982)
  • John N. Ingham


Bernbach, William (13 August 1911–02 October 1982), advertising executive, was born in the Bronx, New York City, the son of Jacob Bernbach, a designer of women’s clothes, and Rebecca Reiter. When he graduated from college (New York University, 1932), with a major in English, Bernbach faced the harsh facts of the depression. Jobs, especially in advertising, were few; the best he could do was take a position as an office boy with Schenley Distillers. Nevertheless, he mustered the enterprise to draft a promotional piece for Schenley’s American cream whiskey and submitted it for consideration. Although the advertising department did in fact use the ad, no mention was made of Bernbach’s having created it. But, his initiative having taken him this far, Bernbach went directly to the firm’s president, Lewis Rosenthiel, to tell him that he had authored the ad. The effort paid off: Bernbach was taken on by the advertising department....

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