7 November 2018
My Story – Maurice Drake
Maurice Drake, a 90-year-old resident at Maycroft Manor, our award-winning care home in Brighton, has shared with us how he came up with the famous advertising slogan ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’ 51 years ago.
I was born in London in 1928 but we moved to Essex when I was three. At school, you took an exam when you were 11. If you got a high enough grade, you went to a county high and then possibly university. If you didn’t, you went to an elementary school and left when you were 14. I took the exam and I did rather well, coming 60th out of the whole of Ilford.
Then, in 1939, a little bloke with a funny moustache started a world war and they closed down the schools. As a result of this, we went to school in people’s front rooms and later we were evacuated to Stowmarket in Suffolk. My mum didn’t like it in the country, so she bought us back just in time for the bombs.
Eventually, I went back to school but I was only there for a few years before it was time to go to work. I just happened to notice that people had a lot of fun on the train and they all caught the 8:16 in the morning, so I thought I ought to get a job in London so I could get the 8:16.
After a very boring stint at the Essex and Suffolk Business Society, I joined the Thames Advertising Service and that’s how I became part of the business. I stayed there until I saw a notice that said ‘Join the Royal Air Force.’ A victim of advertising, I went and joined at 17. When I returned, my father paid for me to go to art school, but I didn’t like it very much, so I went back into advertising and joined public relations firm Armstrong-Warden.
There I made six-inch singles to go into the press and every time someone wrote the copy to accompany the vinyls, they would turn it down. One day, I wrote the copy and to my surprise, they bought it straight away! Then later on, when they decided to double the size of the copy department from one to two, a lovely man called Jimmy Varcoe insisted I become the new writer, so I became a Copywriter and my career went on from there.
There, I also met a lovely man called Jack Potter. One day, Jack and I wrote some comedy scripts for a birthday party at Armstrong-Warden and Jack suggested we take some scripts down and sell them to the legendary comedian Bob Monkhouse. We took them to this ramshackle building where Bob Monkhouse and Dennis Goodwin, his partner then, were working. They gave us £10 for it, which was a lot of money back then, so Jack and I started writing comedy scripts together.
We did a few things together but it was getting a bit uneven and he was earning more than I was! I went back to Bob Monkhouse and asked that he find me another partner, and he found Pat Dunlop. We wrote a couple of shows like The Charlie Chester Show, but I had a vague suspicion that comedy was changing and I wasn’t, so I went back into the advertising business and started working for global marketing communication company Young & Rubicam in the late 1960s.
There, I did a lot of work with Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and one of my most famous campaigns was ‘Award yourself the CDM’. I was Creative Director and I set up a brown paper session. This is when you’re desperate. You get sheets of brown paper and stick them on the wall. Then you write down everything you can think of and photograph it. We took the photograph and I realised, that with all those ideas up there, there wasn’t one that we could use. Then I saw that we had written Cadbury Dairy Milk with the initials ‘CDM.’ I thought wait a minute, that sounds like an honour. ‘Award yourself the CDM.’ Those are the sorts of things that would happen. We also did the ‘Roses grow on you’ campaign for Cadbury which featured comedian Norman Vaughan.
In 1967, I was given a very difficult brief from Heinz. The reason it was so difficult was because it was so simple. There were two types of products – own label and branded. Own label products were always a bit cheaper, so how do you get people to pay the extra to buy the branded goods? That was the brief.
I think it took some weeks, if not months, to try and find the solution, and of course, it turned out, in the end, to be terribly simple. That is, if you’re talking beans, you really are talking Heinz. Beanz Meanz Heinz. I looked down at my pad in the Victoria pub in Camden, run by two old ladies who kept a parrot, and there it was. In 2012, it was voted the best slogan of all time by Creative Review and at the 50th anniversary in 2017, Selfridges in London had a big window display and a pop-up café. Beanz Meanz Heinz was obviously my most famous campaign, but I personally always felt that ‘Award yourself the CDM’ was my favourite.
During my career, I also taught the role reversal seminar at Trinity College in Oxford for 25 years. This was run by the Creative Circle, which I was President of in 1977 and 1978. We turned marketers into advertising agencies and we, the Creative Directors, became clients. They had to pitch for our business, and I did that for 25 years. I also lectured on advertising and marketing in Europe, South America and South East Asia and was twice a judge for the Cannes Advertising Film Festival.
Every now and then your mind goes back to the business, and when it comes to modern day advertising, there are a couple of things that are really important. Number one, you should always base what you’re doing on what you might call ‘product hero’. The product is always the hero, and there is no point in having advertising which doesn’t get to the product quickly. Secondly, always look for something memorable from your campaign. If you follow that then you won’t waste your client’s money.
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