“Passion,” the word, may seem descriptive of a complicated set of feelings and opinions. Oddly, in thinking about Ed Tettemer’s passion for his agency and its clients, it seems rather simple. It’s just that he wants everything to be excellent: excellent clients, excellent co-workers, excellent marketing solutions, excellent creative executions, excellent everything.
Clearly, that situation had a powerful influence on Ed’s psyche. He dropped out of high school and spent over three years hitch hiking all over the country. He found ways to make enough money to do a lot of both savory and unsavory things. He was a confused young man wandering the country during confusing times.
But he never lost touch with his Mother and Dad so, ultimately, he went home to Bucks County and found a job working as a glorified gopher for the Doylestown Intelligencer. He ran ads back and forth from the paper to its small, retail advertisers. He says, “I guess I was a junior account executive and didn’t know it.” He delivered ad proofs, started helping small stores with their ad copy and quickly learned how those small retailers did their newspaper advertising. During the year at the paper, he got to know and got to be friendly with many of his customers. He realized that most of them didn’t have a lot of confidence in the help they were getting from the paper. He believed that he could help them do better advertising, advertising that actually worked and could be tracked. He doesn’t know why he believed that but he believed it.
He remembered Pete’s Place in a rather nostalgic way. Pete’s Place was a restaurant in Ottsville just north of Doylestown. Their ad always ran on the same page with other restaurants. All of the ads were the same size, were laid out in a conventional rectangle and had many of the same messages: good food, low prices, family atmosphere, etc.
Except for one thing. Their logo and sign was a big wagon wheel. After Ed convinced them to try to look different, their next ad was designed to be round. It stood out nicely on the page with all the rectangles. Someone once said that good advertising should zig when the competition’s zags.
While Ed didn’t refer to that specific quote during our interview, much of what he said about Pete’s Place and about Red Tettemer’s work seems to support that “Zig if they Zag”idea. Ed reflects, “I think I made six bucks on the work I did for Pete’s.” The result? He worked with mostly small retailers for four years and developed a keen understanding of how the retailer thinks and of what it takes to motivate consumers to respond to advertising and promotion. In his own words, “I guess I didn’t really know what I was doing but I liked my clients, worked hard and made a decent living.”
Marriage followed as did a move into Center City where he, wife Lyn and daughter Jessie still live. His first job in the city was with the old Elkman Agency where he claims to have started “Knowing nothing.” His boss, Creative Director Jim Block, promised to make him into a copy writer and further promised that he would like doing it. Jim did what he promised and Ed did like it. He had five productive years there but was always the junior writer. He needed more.