Subscribe to Inc. magazine

Madison Avenue Memoirs

The life and thoughts of an advertising legend.

General Electric's "We bring good things to life" slogan? That was Phil Dusenberry's. Dusenberry (below), the former chairman of advertising agency BBDO, was also the creative force behind Gillette's "The best a man can get" and the Pepsi Challenge campaign.

In his upcoming book, Then We Set His Hair on Fire, Dusenberry tells how he came up with those and other memorable ad campaigns. The secret, he says, is asking questions. Before he recognized that HBO was more than just TV or that Campbell's Chunky soup was hearty enough to eat like a meal, Dusenberry mined pals, vendors, competitors, and dissatisfied customers for honest insights into how to improve a product's image. In the case of Chunky, he asked people why they disliked soup. Many said it didn't fill them up. Sometimes, Dusenberry admits, accidents worked in his favor--like the freak fireworks mishap during the filming of an infamous Pepsi commercial that ignited Michael Jackson's tresses (hence the book's title). Dusenberry claims the fiasco gave Pepsi about $13 million in free media exposure and a 24% increase in brand awareness.

Last updated: Sep 1, 2005


Darren Dahl is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine, which he has written for since 2004. He also works as a collaborative writer and editor and has partnered with several high-profile authors. Dahl lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

Register on today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments

Or sign up using: