Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sorry Charlie...

Dad if you only knew what a whirlwind you caused by simply 'passing away'. Sure enough a reporter gets my name and links me to you. I wish you could receive the recognition you have always deserved. To me you were just a pretty neat dad who had strange and eccentric if not frustrating ideas. I grew up and realised that I was not much different than you.

How funny!
Thank you again for your creativity and ways of 'thinking' out of the box...or as Lance never knew there was a box that you were supposed to 'think' in!

Here's to you dad, because of you I get a second 15 minutes of fame...sure do love you. I hope you are laughing!!!!

Article as it appears in the Vernon County Broadcaster

‘Sorry, Charlie’ tag line very familiar to Viroqua’s Ewing

The image of a suave "Charlie the Tuna" pitching the Starkist brand is ingrained in the memories of the masses, but it also holds a special place in the heart of one Viroqua woman.

Valerie (Rogers) Ewing is the daughter of Tom Rogers, who created the "Charlie the Tuna" ads while serving as an advertising copywriter for the Leo Burnett Co., advertising agency in Chicago during the 1960s.

Rogers, who passed away in June of 2005 at age 87, will be featured on the History Channel show "America Eats" Thursday (tonight) at 9 p.m. Ewing was interviewed for the segment.

Rogers was involved in numerous iconic advertising campaigns that Baby Boomers know by heart. He wrote copy for the Keebler Elves and Morris the Cat.

"My Dad never thought of himself as a famous person," Ewing said. "It's kind of sad people don't recognize things like this until after you're gone."

Rogers created Charlie the Tuna in 1961. He had complete control over how Charlie looked, his voice (supplied by veteran character actor Herschel Bernardi) and what he said. Charlie appeared in 86 commercials and guest spots through the 1970s.

While Rogers was at Leo Burnett it propelled the images of Tony the Tiger, the Jolly Green Giant and the Marlboro Man.

Ewing said growing up in the Rogers' household in Chicago was like being part of a focus group for advertising campaigns. She had a Charlie the Tuna telephone, lamp and rugs. Her Dad brought a model of the Pillsbury Doughboy home for the children the play with.

"A lot of the time we thought it was corny and stupid — the Pillsbury Doughboy? We just put him in a closet," she said.

Rogers, however, provided the family once with an example of the power of advertising and his influence over it. During the Christmas season of 1965, Rogers asked his children to watch a certain program on television. Ewing said they found this odd, as her father wasn't much for having his children watch TV.

"So, we're sitting there watching and a commercial for United Airlines came on," Ewing said. "Hawaiian music started playing and the voice over said, 'Guess what Tom Rogers is getting his kids for Christmas?' That was how he told us we were going on our first trip to Hawaii.

"Dad had planned the commercial and followed it all the way through production," Ewing continued. "He pitched it that way to United Airlines and they went with it."

Ewing operated an insurance agency in the Chicago area and met area native Rich Ewing on one of the Richland Center Wagon Trains in 1994. The couple married in 1996 and Ewing moved here. She is the secretary/office manager at Bjerke Chiropractic Office in Viroqua.

Her desk is surrounded by artwork that was included in one of Leo Burnett's campaigns for Marlboro cigarettes.

"When I was growing up, I didn't realize how different my father was from anyone else's father," Ewing said. "Then I moved away from home and in conversations it would come up that he worked on these things. When I would tell people he wrote, 'Sorry, Charlie,' people's eyes would light up. They'd treat you like a celebrity."

Aside from the posters in the Bjerke office and an occasional conversation about them, Ewing said few people know of her connection to some of the most celebrated advertising ever produced.

"I don't even watch TV," Ewing said. "I ride mules and train them, do endurance riding and photography. Photography is something my dad got me interested in."

1 comment:

Liz said...

(picture me stomping the floor in a mad fit)And I won't be home to watch it! I so want to see this episode. I think it is so cool.