David Bernstein at his best – ‘improving’ David Ogilvy’s famous Hathaway ad

David Bernstein, one of the founders of The Creative Business – either a smallish agency or a big creative consultancy but famous in its day – has died aged 88. Bernstein had been a star creative director and writer and remained a thoughtful and witty commentator on advertising.

I never knew him that well but did bump into him one day taking my father-in-law to watch Arsenal when they were still playing at Bernstein’s beloved Highbury (he was an Islington boy although he later chose the unlikely environs of Croydon). He greeted us both warmly and we chatted away, which showed what a nice man he was.

Back in the day – really back in the day – he appeared on this platform at an Advertising Association conference in Brighton. The year was 1966 when England won the World Cup and the Beatles released Revolver (not that you’d know it from the conservatively attired panel). Convenor is Ronnie Kirkwood, who also died recently, with Sam Rothenstein of Masius (the first woman creative director at big agency in London I think), Jeremy Bullmore of JWT and WPP fame (whom God preserve) and Bernstein. The theme is creativity, specifically assessing risk and responsibility in approving creative work. The ad under discussion is David Ogilvy’s famous ‘Man in the Hathaway shirt’ and our adfolk pretend to be clients trying to improve it.

As if we didn’t know, it’s yet more proof that, while everything changes all the time in advertising, nothing does really.

Uploaded to YouTube by Johnnie Mitchell, who’s done the ad world a service.

PS The Advertising Association conference used to quite an event, bringing clients and ad people together, mostly constructively. It was the big UK marketing event of the year. Why doesn’t the AA revive it? It might be the equivalent of the fabled Christmas Day kickabout between the British and Germans on the Western Front.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.


  1. The AA does hold an annual conference, called LEAD, each January and has done for the last 7 years, with the same mix of clients, media and agencies as in the past. We try to set the agenda for the industry for the year ahead, with speakers from across our industry, business, academia and politics Next year’s is on 25th Jan at Kings Place in Kings Cross. An invitation is on its way!

  2. Speaking of Ronnie Kirkwood, did you know that he had the pockets of his immaculate suits sown up so he couldn’t spoil their line by inadvertently putting his giant box of Russian fags in them. What a guy… Remember “Wodka from Varington.”

  3. Their dissection of the Hathaway ad is reminiscent of the famous piece in Communication Arts magazine in 1963: