Bob Gage, like his ads, is one of a kind. He tackled the printed page and it hasn’t been the same since. He made it jump. He made it talk. He made it laugh. He made it whisper. He made it shout. He made the newspaper page, the magazine page seem bigger than they had ever been. I believe that history will show that Gage has had as great an influence on the printed advertising message as Toulouse Lautrec.
Bob shook up television too. When TV was only a few years old, there were already old pros citing ironclad rules. Bob would ask again and again, “What do you mean we can’t do it this way?” He battled and won. He proved that the only rule in TV is the stop-watch. His work brought new depth and breadth to the screen. The quick cut. Stop motion photography. The freeze frame. The use of vignettes. The humanity of Mikey eating Life cereal. The emotion of the early Polaroid spots. The snap and crackle of the Garner-Hartley spots.
Not only is Gage a superb copy editor, he’s written more good lines than many copywriters. A masterful film director too, Bob can handle everyone from fresh-faced little kids to Laurence Olivier.
Bob is an honest man. Honest about himself, about his work, about his colleagues, about the products he works on. He has a terrific eye and ear for anything that’s phony or overstated.
I learned a lot from Bob Gage, working side by side with him at Doyle Dane Bernbach, watching three decades of his cigarette ashes spill over our print ads and storyboards. And I feel privileged. But anyone who works in advertising today has learned from Bob, consciously or not. We’re all privileged.