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The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Campaign

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Campaign

The other campaign that was tremendous fun for me was also my biggest campaign and one of which I'm most proud: the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. When we first went down there, there were only three hotels in Puerto Rico - the Caribe Hilton, the Condado Beach, and the Normandy, a horrible hotel that was literally shaped like a ship. After we ran these ads, tourism in Puerto Rico grew dramatically.

There were actually three separate Puerto Rico campaigns, after an initial "institutional" campaign for Puerto Rico (meaning a campaign to make the reader feel good about the client, without focusing on specific products): these three were Puerto Rican industry; rum; and tourism.

I was involved in the initial meetings with the Commonwealth, between Ogilvy and Teodoro Moscosso, the first director of Puerto Rico's economic development program. The rapport that the two of them developed made for a smooth and effective series of campaigns, which bode well for me as I spent a good deal of time there.

Rough for Puerto Rico campaign

To get a feel for our approach, I did a series of roughs before going to the island. This picture on the left is one of them. None of the roughs I did in New York actually became ads - what we generally did in practice was figure out the picture content while on location. We would have basic ideas that we wanted to work with, but we would scout out pictures and work out ideas on the spot.

Falling in love with old San Juan - click here to read ad text

"Falling in love with old San Juan"

I won an award of distinctive merit from the Art Director's Club for this ad, our first one for Puerto Rican tourism.

Honeymoon in Puerto Rico

Honeymoon in Puerto Rico

We certainly weren't above hokeying around. This is a classic example. This hotel had just opened up somewhere up island, a long way away from the water. There was nothing up there to photograph worth a damn. In short, we brought in all the bright red bougainvillea and stuck it wherever we had to on the empty veranda to obscure an empty landscape and produce an interesting photograph.

Puerto Rican rum - click here to read ad text

Puerto Rican Rum

This ad and a few others like it were an absolute breakthough in advertising. We started a kind of endorsement campaign for Puerto Rican rum by bringing married couples to the island to make a pitch for the drink. Up until that point, women had never appeared in liquor ads - never! The ads we shot did feature women: in each of them, the man would have a drink in his hand, but the woman would not even have a drink in front of her - we had to make believe she wasn't drinking at all! Yet even this mild advance led an outraged lobby of moralists in Washington to hit the Puerto Rican legislators so hard that the governor of Puerto Rico decided to pull the ads.

Rum picnic - click here to read ad text

"On a picnic in Puerto Rico, I discovered a new kind of rum"

In this later ad, I literally had to cut the picture in half in order to remove the woman! As a result, you can see that this ad has a curiously vertical appearance, and a sense of something missing. Here's a guy having a rummy picnic all by himself!

We knew we were doing something controversial. That was typical of Ogilvy, tiptoing on the edge, trying new things - not being overly sensational, but refusing to be bound down by tradition. His main motivation for this approach? To sell rum, of course!

Advertising in the 1950s Schweppes Ads Renderings & Ads Puerto Rico Ads The Ogilvy Style Ad Campaign Work Bill Binzen Home