A Day in the Life of Bill McBride and Alex Sink, 1989! FLORIDA BUSINESS

(Former Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride died suddenly today, December 23, 2012. It saddened me greatly as I always enjoyed interviewing him and just being in his company over the years. He and his wife, Alex Sink, were delightful people and I think I captured a moment in time with them pretty well in this profile, originally published in Florida Business/Tampa Bay, 1989.)

It’s Friday, almost 7 p.m., and Bill McBride is driving his pale blue Jaguar XJ6 — the one with the baby seat in back — to Simon Schwartz, where he’ll buy groceries to make dinner for a client who is coming by at 8 to meet his wife, Alex. She’s due in on the air shuttle from Miami any minute. That’s why he’s describing his life as one of Florida’s most influential attorneys while squeezing produce, grabbing six-packs of Amstel Light and Kirin Dry and directing the butcher to five juicy N.Y. strip steaks.

“If I’m tired, one of the reasons is our little girl has been waking up at 3 a.m. and not going back to sleep,” explains the Tampa managing partner of Holland & Knight. “And I’ve been staying up with her.”

Bill McBride and Adelaide “Alex” Sink are happily married with two young children, Bert and Lexie. They are a thoroughly modern couple.

He lives in a comfortable home in Tampa’s Palma Ceia neighborhood. She has a condominium in Coconut Grove, a suburb of Miami, because that’s where her job as a senior vice president with NCNB National Bank of Florida is. The kids — ages 20 months and 17 weeks — live in Tampa with Dad. Mom jets home to see them on the weekends.

“It’s a pretty interesting story,” says Jim Chandler, vice president of public affairs at NCNB National Bank of Florida. “They live lives in different cities and still make time to make babies.”

Commuting gained a whole new definition when Bill and Alex tied the knot three years ago. Not only do they commute to work, they commute to married life.

“Every once in a while we question whether Alex is working in Miami or in Tampa,” jokes Tamara Klinger, communications manager of the United Way of Dade County, where Sink is on the board of directors. “I think she spends most Fridays on an airplane.”

ALEX SINK: “When Bill came along … He was a professional, well established in his career and he was a Democrat. When he told me on the first date he was getting ready to go to the Democratic National Convention as a Gary Hart delegate, I thought, ‘This is the right man.’ Because I had made up my mind I wasn’t going to marry a Republican.” 

The shoes of McBride, 44, and Sink, 40, are not ones in which most of us would comfortably fit. McBride is one of three managing partners at Florida’s largest law firm, Holland & Knight, where he oversees 250 lawyers. Sink is among the highest ranking women at NCNB. They see each other primarily on weekends, but sometimes in one city or another as business needs dictate.

“We have a big office down there, so I have to go down a lot,” says McBride. “And her headquarters is here in Tampa with NCNB. So we go back and forth. If we didn’t have that relationship, it wouldn’t be easy.”

“I used to read about these marriages,” says Sink, who married McBride two years ago. It is her second time around, his first. “When the idea was first being thought about, you’d read about these high-powered New York/Washington couples and you’d think, ‘How foolish!’ And now I’m in the middle of it.”

Gregg Thomas, a partner at Holland & Knight in Tampa, says the lawyer’s co-workers have a great appreciation of McBride’s unusual lifestyle. “I think it’s just accepted that she’s on a career path that’s as important as his. I think it’s neat he’s taking as much care of Bert as he does.”

The McBride/Sink courtship lasted two years and was largely based on airline schedules, a warm-up for married life. When they finally wed, the pair shared shelter for nine whole months before a promotion and better money in Miami was too good to refuse.

“Bill was going into the office Saturdays and Sunday mornings,” remembers Sink. “I would go in on Saturdays and stay late. I became convinced that when you added up the hours we spent together, it’s about the same. I never thought we would go back to commuting. I stay late in Miami so when I come (to Tampa) for the weekend I don’t have to think about work. And he does much the same thing.”

Sink oversees NCNB’s consumer banking services in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. That translates into 75 bank branches, 800 employees and $2 billion in deposits.

“Her job in Miami is a good one,” says McBride. “My wife is the highest ranking woman officer in NCNB. She is on the executive committee of the Chamber of Commerce in Miami, she’s on the United Way Board of Directors. She’s a pretty formidable person in her own right. My judgement is she should continue. So for now, the babies are staying with me. (I’m) sort of Mr. Mom.”

“He has much stronger mother’s instincts than I do with our children,” says Sink. “He has different sides, but he’s very soft-hearted.” Then, believing that might be misinterpreted, she adds, “I mean, nobody’s going to accuse Bill McBride of being a wimp.”

They make an unlikely couple for more reasons than sheer geography. She is a delicate, pretty, exotic looking woman with Oriental roots (her great-grandfather was one of the original Siamese twins) who grew up in Mount Airy, North Carolina. He is a stocky, gentle man from Leesburg who went to the University of Florida on a football scholarship (a bad knee subsequently kept him from playing) and served in Vietnam with the Marines.

McBride was ready to settle down and have a family when he turned 40; Sink wasn’t.

“I wasn’t looking to get married,” she says. “After the first marriage, I made up my mind to work at my career and get financially independent. I didn’t care about having kids, so there wasn’t that pressure. When Bill came along … He was a professional, well established in his career and he was a Democrat. When he told me on the first date he was getting ready to go to the Democratic National Convention as a Gary Hart delegate, I thought, ‘This is the right man.’ Because I had made up my mind I wasn’t going to marry a Republican.

“It’s like religion,” says Sink. “My politics are very important to me. I couldn’t see myself living with someone of a different philosophy or someone who was apolitical.”

Politics are an integral part of McBride’s life and are becoming more so by the day. When Hart didn’t work out in ’84, he signed on first with Joe Biden and then Michael Dukakis in ’88. There’s still a yard sign in the garage. “I’ve always been a Democrat,” he says. “I may be the last one.” A supporter of Bob Martinez when he was the Democratic Mayor of Tampa, he has closely aligned himself to the 1990 gubernatorial hopes of Rep. Bill Nelson (D.-Melbourne), a friend since they met in Key Club while McBride was at Leesburg High School and Nelson at Melbourne High.

Nelson and McBride have a long history together. The congressman is a frequent house guest. While in Tampa, McBride fills his friend’s days and nights with meetings and social engagements to help Nelson spread his political base across Central Florida.

“When we have time together, we make the most of it,” according to Nelson. “Bill would fill every available minute with meetings — over breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Sink has been drawn to the campaign by her husband’s friendship with Nelson. “When the guy comes and spends the night in your house about once a month for three years, you can’t help but get involved with him,” she says.

The bond between lawyer and politician is their shared goal of excellence in Florida’s future. “I think he’s the best. I give him a lot of money. I’m a fundraiser,” says McBride. “And I’m going to work on issues with him.”

“(McBride) has specific ideas about what ought to be done and the kinds of individuals that ought to do them. I went to him first, saying that I wanted to be governor,” says Nelson.

While McBride lacks an official position with the Nelson campaign, he doesn’t lack for influence. “He’s broadened my support in Hillsborough,” says the candidate, “and he’s been a help in fundraising. He has poured everything — his heart and soul — into it.”

“Bill — I call him a man of no moderation,” says Sink. “He does things 110 percent.”

But what kind of a business manager is Barrister McBride?

“I’ve never had trouble walking into his office and bitching and moaning about something going on,” says Holland & Knight partner Gregg Thomas, a media law specialist in the firm’s Tampa office. “He is the only peer who criticizes me, and I criticize him regularly. It’s a good, constructive relationship.”

Bill Nelson says you need only compare McBride’s age with his position to know how talented he is. “Bill has had an extremely rapid rise at one of the state’s most prestigious law firms. Law firms usually defer to managing partners who are very senior. And what’s Bill, 43, 44? That sort of speaks for itself.”

The partners of Holland & Knight must think a lot of McBride; they elected him in Jan. 1988 to a three-year term as a managing partner.

“I’ve worked with McBride for the last 10 years,” says Thomas. “I’m always amazed at him. I think he’s the reason we’re doing so well in Tampa. Tampa is a changing market. Through McBride’s leadership we realized we needed to reach out and find new and developing clients. He’s getting us motivated about being lawyers and being involved in our community. Being not only marketing-oriented but community-oriented has come from McBride.”

Atop the book shelves in McBride’s office sits a colorful, bearded wizard in flowing robes who has certainly worked his magicks upon the holder of the office. From his office on the 21st floor of new NCNB Building in downtown Tampa, Bill McBride balances tremendous responsibilities as a managing partner at Holland & Knight and one of several heirs to the mantle of his personal mentor and law firm founder Chesterfield Smith. That would be enough alone for most energetic men. But McBride also finds time to be a member of Nelson’s campaign for governor, a barrage of regional transportation committees and civic groups.

He is a mega-manager.

“Bill McBride is one of the most dynamic men I have ever known,” says his friend and associate on many transportation commissions, Joe McFarland, president of McFarland & Fries Financial Services. “He is really a go-getter, in spades.”

BILL McBRIDE: “When I was in the Marine Corps,” he recalls, “we’d come back from the woods in Vietnam. The number one thing we wanted to get was ice cream. One time they said they were going to get ice cream for dessert and then the freezer broke down. There was a riot.” 

And don’t lose site of his responsibilities at home; the live-in nanny cares for the kids all day, but they’re McBride’s to deal with after 7 p.m.

“I work a lot,” he says. “I don’t play golf, but I’m not a nut. I do a lot of public service stuff, probably more than most people. And I have a lot of good friends that work with me. I get a lot of support from my partners. I’ll do the job at hand without too much messing around.”

Alex Sink — and no one seems to ever refer to her as Mrs. McBride — has a similar no-nonsense approach to her career. She has worked hard to rise to prominence within NCNB, starting 15 years ago as a branch planning analyst in Charlotte. That’s when NCNB only had one name — North Carolina National Bank, not NCNB of Florida, Texas, et al. At Wake Forest she studied math and married soon after graduation. Her first husband work took them to three African countries where she taught school. But the relationship soured and, after three years, Sink returned home and joined the bank at age 25.

“One advantage I had was that I was single,” she says of her advancement. “If I wanted to stay out late, I had the flexibility. If I saw ‘the boys’ were going out for pizza or beer — and provided they invited me along — I went. I didn’t have that sense of exclusion that a married young woman might. Today, I’m one of the old-timers … Maybe I’m one of ‘the boys’ now.”

As a senior vice president, she has come full circle in terms of her job focus. Sink is again responsible for finding new branches for NCNB, but she also works on increasing consumer lending and deposits, overseeing employee training and developing new products. She is on the road a lot.

“Alex has been a star for a lot of years,” says Jim Chandler. “She’s gregarious, friendly, very outgoing. She’s loaded with energy. She works probably 80 hours a week, never slows down.”

Chandler calls Sink “a member of the team,” noting an independent study by the International Leadership Center in Dallas which identified her as the second most powerful woman in Miami.

“I’ll tell you a little story,” says Chandler. “It goes back to my early days with the company. I was flying to New York with Thomas Storrs, the retired president of the bank, and Buddy Kent, who is now chairman of NCNB Texas. Storrs told Kent, ‘I just made some business calls with a lady who was the best prepared executive I’ve ever dealt with on your staff. Every ‘i’ was dotted, every ‘t’ was crossed. Her name was Alex Sink.’ That was part of the secret of Alex’s success — being recognized as good and thorough.”

Community service and involvement is a commitment stressed in the lives of both McBride and Sink. They give time and money to causes and projects they believe in. It gives them character; it is also the tie that binds them together.

“My civic work is very important to me,” says Sink. “Things like the United Way and the Chamber of Commerce are an important part of our lives.”

Ray Goode, CEO of The Babcock Co. in Coral Gables and vice chairman of public affairs for the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, says Sink does an “exceptional” job running the chamber’s state affairs committee. The committee is a political lobbying arm which promotes the chamber’s legislative package in Tallahassee. “She’s very knowledgeable about what’s going on in greater Miami and statewide,” according to Goode. “She has gotten to know the ‘actors,’ she knows where the sources are and knows how to work with these sources. She is a particularly relevant model to women who want to work and stay on the career path and start a family. She has proven that it can be done.”

“Alex has chosen to be a leader not only in her company but in the community,” agrees Tamara Klinger of the United Way of Dade County. “Each year, Alex has taken on a different role in the campaign and each year she comes through for us.”

As for McBride’s relentless devotion to community — he serves on the board of directors of United Way of Greater Tampa, Tampa Ballet, Tampa Downtown Partnership, Tampa Marine Institute and Tiger Bay Club of Tampa; founded the District VII Transportation Coalition and the Marion Street Transitway Coalition; works as a member of two state committees, the Gender Bias Study Commission and the Task Force on the Future of the Florida Family; and he is also chairman of a partnership conducting a human needs assessment for Hillsborough — he says that because lawyers have a legal monopoly on what they do, they have a greater responsibility than most professionals to give something back. “I trained under a lawyer — Chesterfield Smith — who said that’s how you should be. (The law) isn’t just a way to make money. You should work to make it better.

“Money has never been a motivating factor for me,” says the past-president of the Hillsborough Bar Association. “But I’ve been very lucky. I do very well — much better than I deserve. Maybe I do a lot of the free work to make myself feel better about leading such a luxurious life.”

A lot of lawyers do the same quality work. Who do you choose? Maybe the guy who gives back to the community. At least that’s the theme McBride follows. He says his motives are not entirely pure; he still has a law practice to build. But many would argue he has a hand in many more civic projects than would be necessary to impress the average citizen or corporate client.

Driving home from the grocery, McBride pulls into a drive-thru Farm Stores outlet. Being home a lot, McBride says he’s getting fat. “It’s a lack of willpower,” he says. “I like ice cream a lot. Don’t tell anyone I said so, but the best ice cream in the world is Farm Stores’. I think they pour as much sugar as they can in a carton with cream. It’s incredibly good. One of the best they have is chocolate chip.”

JOE McFARLAND: “Bill McBride is one of the most dynamic men I have ever known.” 

Ice cream, of all things, reminds the lawyer of his tour of duty in Vietnam. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in ’68 and went into the jungles as an infantry platoon commander, company commander, and combined unit commander of Marines and Vietnamese popular forces. A sword from the Marine Corps hangs proudly over the family fireplace.

“When I was in the Marine Corps,” he recalls, “we’d come back from the woods in Vietnam. The number one thing we wanted to get was ice cream. One time they said they were going to get ice cream for dessert and then the freezer broke down. There was a riot.”

At the house, the children’s nanny could probably use a cold beer, not chocolate almond ice cream. She is frazzled from hours of chasing McBride’s son around the house. “Bert’s at the stage where he wants to run all day,” says a dad who probably figures he’s got a chip off the old block.

“You know,” says Bill McBride, “the complaint I hear most from guys my age who got married early is they didn’t spend enough time with their kids. The most important thing to me up until now has been the law firm. Having children at 43 doesn’t even remotely resemble having kids at a younger age. I would not have been as good a father as I hope I’m going to be.”

There are advantages to having a spouse living 300 miles away. Think of the frequent flyer points. McBride and Sink used theirs to take a vacation in Australia last summer. While they probably won’t be able to do anything that extravagant again until the children are out of diapers, they do have a fishing boat in the Bahamas for summer vacations and long weekends.

Sink calls. Her flight is running late; she’ll probably miss dinner with the client. McBride takes it in stride. He’s bragged of his cooking prowess and will have an opportunity to practice on a business associate. That’s later; right now he’s playing with Bert, who looks like his mother, and Cheryl Alexander — “Lexie” — who looks like her mother.

“My wife calls her Lexie. I call her ‘Myrtle’ because it rhymes with ‘Bertle.’ That’s what I call Bert — Bertle the Turtle.” No one in the family, it seems, goes by their given names. McBride turns to his son, William Albert, who is coloring the daily newspaper on the coffee table with huge crayons. “Bert,” he instructs, “say, ‘E-I — E-I … ”

“O!!” shouts the little boy to his father’s glee.

Gregg Thomas, who brings his kids over to play with McBride’s, believes there are limits to the boss’s “Mr. Mom” act. Like changing diapers. “I said, ‘Bill, Bert’s got a problem with his pants. You got a diaper?’ He says, ‘No, Alex will be home in 15 minutes.’ So there are some things he doesn’t like to deal with.”

McBride goes to bed every night at 9:30, right after Bert. He wants more children; Sink doesn’t seem so inclined. “I worry a lot that I’ll be 60 and my kids will just be going to college. But I kinda accept things as they come,” she says. “On the other hand, “Five years ago, my company wasn’t prepared for women on the career-track to have children. Today we have a lot of benefits.”

The McBride/Sinks will settle on the one family, one city concept before too long. Both parents acknowledge that it’s inevitable. But where will they live? Whose career will have to give way to the best interests of the family?

“I sort of think those things take care of themselves,” says Bill McBride. “It’ll work out.”


Sidebar: Don’t Drive, He Said


Bill McBride has seized transportation as an issue very important to him. His outspoken views on mass transit solutions, outlined in the January, 1989 issue of FLORIDA BUSINESS, show him to be a supporter of innovative solutions to Tampa Bay’s stalled traffic patterns.

“He has become one of the acknowledged experts on transportation in Hillsborough County,” according to Rep. Bill Nelson.

Joe McFarland has served on many transit committees with McBride, who succeeded him as chairman of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s Highway & Public Transportation Council in 1987. “He didn’t know the first thing about our transportation problems the first day took over our transportation council. But he’s a fast study. What he doesn’t know, he’s quick to tell you. One of the first things he perceived was that busing was in trouble. He decided we needed a group from the power structure who could be vocal.”

The result was the formation of the Marion Street Transitway Coalition, which successfully pushed for construction of a regional bus mall in downtown Tampa.

McBride is widely credited with founding the District VII Transportation Coalition, the first regional (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Hernando and Pasco counties) organization in Florida to support area transportation needs and legislation. “He perceived we needed an overall constituency for regional transportation. He was the father of it. It was his baby,” says McFarland.

The credentials don’t end there. McBride is chairman of the Citizens Advisory Council to the Metropolitan Planning Organization; a member of the Rail Transit Study Management Team; co-chairman of the Hillsborough County Transportation Financing Alternatives Committee; organizer of the Advisory Committee on Hillsborough County Transportation Concepts; member of the Tampa Interstate Study Advisory Committee; and a member of Tampa’s Transportation Finance Committee (appointed by the mayor). — Bob Andelman

Will Eisner: A Spirited Life by Bob Andelman, Mr. Media Interviews
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Review: The Sun (UK) gives Fans Not Customers 4 stars (of 5)

The Sun (London) review of Fans Not Customers
The Sun (London) review of “Fans Not Customers” by Vernon Hill with Bob Andelman

I was nervous when I heard yesterday today that The Sun newspaper in London (circulation: 2.385 million) would be publishing a review of “Fans Not Customers” by Vernon Hill and Bob Andelman today. But I guess I worry too much: Four out of Five Stars is a pretty good review, right?

Will Eisner: A Spirited Life by Bob Andelman, Mr. Media Interviews
Order ‘Will Eisner: A Spirited Life’ (2nd Edition) by Bob Andelman, available from Amazon.com by clicking on the book cover above!

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Copyright 2012 Will Eisner: A Spirited Life by Bob Andelman

All hail the Jingle King, Jeff Arthur! MADDUX BUSINESS REPORT


By Bob Andelman
(Originally published in Maddux Report, 1989)

Jeff Arthur, jingle king, Maddux Business Report, by Bob Andelman
Jingle king Jeff Arthur

Some might say that jingle writing isn’t an art, it’s just advertising.Maybe. But there is a certain melodical, redundant appeal to a well-done jingle that is at once irrepressible and unrelenting, two qualities usually assigned to our finest pop arts.

Bay area jingle writers concentrate on regional and local businesses. Sometimes their stuff becomes ingrained, as Mary Lind Jorn’s words did in Tampa Electric Company (TECO)’s commercials for the heat pump. Jorn got the heat pump assignment a couple years ago from the Bozell/Ellis, Diaz advertising agency. Searching for inspiration, she heard the music from a Polar Beer spot the agency prepared but never used. Jorn re-wrote the lyrics and wound up with two seasonal versions:










As anyone who listens to the radio knows, the jingle has gotten a lot of use with TECO. “The client liked it; it seemed to be effective,” according to Bill Diaz, who handles the TECO account for Bozell/Ellis, Diaz. “We’re entering the fourth campaign cycle using that jingle. It’s still got plenty of life in it.”

“With the heat pump,” says Jorn, “we had a simple message. We wrote a simple lyric that expressed that.”

Jeff Arthur, Tampa Bay’s “King of Jingles,” has written words and music for AMC Theaters, Anheuser-Busch, Eastern Airlines, Sun Bank, (“THUMBS UP, THE SUN IS SHINING, BRIGHTER EVERYDAY … SUN BANK, THE BRIGHT WAY TO BANK”) the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, Wendy’s and many shopping malls in the Tampa Bay area. He has done crematories (“NECRON CREMATION DOES OUR PART, BY LEAVING LASTING MEMORIES IN YOUR HEART … WHEN CREMATION IS THE CHOICE YOU NEED, NECRON TRIBUTE ™ HANDLES IT TENDERLY .. IT’S BEST TO PLAN AHEAD YOU’LL SEE, MAKE THINGS EASY ON YOUR FAMILY”) and passed on escort services. But Mary’s Bonding Service, now there is a dilly of a ditty.

“Mary gets bail bonds for people who get in trouble,” explains Jeff Arthur, one-time national recording artist turned jingle writer. “She has a really good reputation as a grandmotherly person when you get in trouble.”

So this is what he came up with a few weeks ago for the Pinellas Park business, sung in the mellow, folksy style of James Taylor:








As the tape of Mary’s jingle plays, Arthur bounces around Studio B, laughing at the humor he hears in his own lyrics. He describes the ideal scenario of effectiveness for this commercial: “Can you imagine a cop, driving with a guy handcuffed in the back of his car, and the cop is singing, ‘Call your old friend Mary, 571-H-E-L-P.’?”

Arthur is laughing … all the way to the bank.

Don’t get the wrong idea: production of jingles is not a major industry on Florida’s west coast. It is, however, a clever, often hysterically funny medium requiring highly specialized talents. Not every copywriter in an ad agency can write a good jingle. That’s why most echo from Jeff Arthur Productions in Clearwater and a small but growing coterie of independent writers working at home or in studios no larger than a broom closet.

“I think Jeff Arthur does more straight jingle work than anyone else,” says Tom Morris, studio manager of Morrisound Studios in Tampa. “Jeff is kind of the jingle king around here.”

Jingles are 60-second musical dervishes that attempt to sell products and services with catchy lyrics, some rhyming, some funny. “It’s a little epic, only 60 seconds long,” says writer Howard Kleinfeld. “You have to make your point and get out.”

“People have a tendency to think of jingles as cute little things,” says Arthur. “Music is the soul of your advertising copy.”

JEFF ARTHUR audio excerpt: “Whenever I call a client and read lyrics, I say you have to understand, it’s not going to be the same without music. When you put your words to music, they becomes 400 times more memorable than the spoken word.”

Work done locally is typically assigned by out-of-town clients and advertising agencies. Jingle work that originates here is commonly farmed out to Atlanta, Miami, Orlando and New York, which accounts for the narrow marketplace.

“In advertising, there seems to be this mindset that, ‘We can’t do this in our hometown,’” says Morris. Morrisound is one of many Bay area studios doing technical jingle production; it is also home to two independent jingle writers, Kent Smith and Lex Macar.

When the Tampa-based advertising agency of Bozell/Ellis, Diaz needs a jingle, it sends the business out of town.

“I guess there’s not enough people doing it here,” says agency president Bill Diaz. “It’s a very competitive business. Maybe the reason we feel more comfortable going out of market is (the work) is not as mature here. There’s people doing good work, but it’s not that mature.” Diaz adds that with multi-million-dollar accounts, he can’t afford to take chances on untested talent. “I think Jeff Arthur does a pretty good job. (He is) probably the best here. He seems to have a style about him that is recognizable; therefore you have to see if his style will suit what you’re trying to get.”

Arthur, noting that only 20 percent of his company’s work is derived from local sources, believes Diaz and others simply don’t appreciate the creative and technical talent available to them in the Bay area.

“People here have not yet taken full advantage of local broadcast production quality,” he says. “There’s a great selection of quality (radio and television) stations but what they’re running on those stations is not given the thought it should be. They are buying radio and television and, because the costs are high for broadcast time, they are taking it away from their production quality. I say, run less time with a creative, professional piece, rather than more time with something of less quality.”

Jingles are meant to be sung. The words alone aren’t as emotional and jarring in print advertising unless the music has been working for a long time. With an established jingle — such as Chevrolet’s “Heartbeat of America” — when it’s tag line is printed, it should trigger the reader’s memory to the sound of the jingle.

Reading jingles here, in print, for example, cannot possibly convey the bubbly, infectious elements found in the best jingles. It’s not the message in jingles as much as it is the way the message is delivered: putting a sales pitch to music is a kinder, gentler way of reaching an audience.

“If music didn’t work,” says Arthur, “you wouldn’t have 97 percent of all major advertisers using it. I guarantee you, McDonalds and Coke know what the hell they’re doing.”

“The jingles you hear that are bad have everything thrown in,” says Jorn. “They’re print copy that people sing. You just can’t set everything to music and figure that’s going to do it. A jingle has to catch the essence of your message. You use phrases you wouldn’t use in print.”

What would “Oh, What a Feeling! Toyota” or “Welcome to Miller Time” be without music? asks Arthur. “Whenever I call a client and read lyrics, I say you have to understand, it’s not going to be the same without music. When you put your words to music, they becomes 400 times more memorable than the spoken word.”

And if anyone could speak authoritatively on that subject, it’s Jeff Arthur. At 37, his name is synonymous with jingles after seven years in Tampa Bay, 18 years in advertising and a few more in a recording group, Arthur, Hurley & Gottlieb. His lobby walls are covered with awards; there are two Clio Award statuettes in his private office. Between the Clearwater facility and a new office in Raleigh, N.C., he keeps very busy.

“I went to Raleigh last week and I got nine jingle (assignments). I’ve already got 25 running there,” he says.

Jeff Arthur Productions is the largest producer of music for shopping malls (“I’M FEELING TYRONE TERRIFIC, BUT TO BE MUCH MORE SPECIFIC, YOU’LL FEEL TERRIFIC, TYRONE SQUARE MALL”) in the country, owing to a longtime association with the DeBartolo Corp. “That’s a huge source of our income,” according to Arthur. His company also does a lot of business with furniture stores. Arthur’s company created the familiar music used nationwide by AMC Theaters (“THERE IS A DIFFERENCE YOU CAN SEE / THERE IS A DIFFERENCE WITH AMC”) and the theme songs for Super Bowl XVIII, “Be a Super Host” (“IF THEY LOVE US WHEN THEY LEAVE US, THEY’LL BE BACK”), and the Tampa Bay Bucanneers (“HEY, HEY, HEY, WE’RE THE BUCANNEERS”).

After several years spent establishing himself in Tampa Bay, Arthur says he’s just now starting to see a payoff.

“People don’t understand the incredible expense it takes to do all the commercials and keep a studio open seven days a week,” he says. “You spend 95 percent of your time selling the product and five percent creating it.”

Most recently, Arthur was commissioned by the Defrain Stemm advertising agency to write music for Larry’s Olde Fashioned Ice Cream Parlours.

“We wrote the copy,” says Vivek Rao, director of production for Defrain Stemm. “But he made enough changes that it almost became a Jeff Arthur original. It was just beautiful. I was so happy I’m going back to him with another commercial.”

Arthur often lifts a style from a familiar pop artist, according to former employees. “He used to put on the top of every spot ‘a la Wendy’s’ or ‘a la Coke,’” says one. Not that he denies it. A mall in Texas wanted its jingle to sound like Paula Abdul, a singer who is currently selling a lot of dance-oriented records. Arthur reproduced the rhythm track from one of her songs and gave it a new but similar melody to satisfy his client.

“Jingle writers aren’t ripping off pop performers,” he says, bristling. “Because everything that’s been done has been done before. It’s how well you do it. It’s having an attitude in your music that’s contemporary with the feeling you want to achieve.”

Mary Lind Jorn, 36, works as a freelancer out of her home in Hyde Park and maintains a loose partnership with Rayna Lancaster in Two Writers/No Waiting. The former SARASOTA HERALD-TRIBUNE reporter coined the phrase “the un-newspaper” for SUNRISE, the CLEARWATER SUN’s twice-weekly entertainment tabloid. It was a situation when a jingle was desired by the client but was not the best way to sell the product.

“The agency called me because they liked the heat pump (jingle),” says Jorn. “I re-lyriced ‘Surfin’ Safari.’ But I had a problem because I could not figure how we were going to sing ‘The Un-newspaper.’”

In the search for schtick, Jorn received a funny message on her telephone answering machine and the offbeat, topical answering machine relationship of Rollo the Nerd and Jasmine the Yuppie was born. “A lot of people say, ‘I want a jingle.’ Sometimes it’s just not the right thing for them,” says Jorn. “You really can’t sell a very complicated product with a jingle. Jingles are reserved for products where people already know what they are.”

One of Jorn’s favorite gimmicks is to rewrite the lyrics of once-popular songs to make a connection with a product. That’s why she initially tried to fit SUNRISE to “Surfin’ Safari.” “I’ll go through old music books looking for a lyric, something that triggers memory banks,” she says. “I like ‘Surfin’ Safari’ because of the familiarity of the era. (It) takes you back to when you were 18, cruising down the road.”

Writers have to be cautious in balancing the best way to sell a product with demonstrating how clever they are or how wide-ranging their vocabulary is.

“You’re not writing literature; it’s business,” she says. “If you’re just doing puns and plays on words, you’re taking the easy way out. If you can find a cliche and it works for you, that’s the best way.”

Don Poole, an engineer at Ron Rose Studios in Tampa, moonlights as a jingle writer and composer. The 27-year-old relies heavily on the memory of a Macintosh computer to give him the power of a studio orchestra.

“Musicians hate guys like me, who uses computers,” says the author of jingles for WFLA Radio, Cellular One, Charter Hospital, the New York Daily News and 3M. “A lot ofjingle writers are using it. I can use a trumpet as a lead instrument; if a client doesn’t like it, I can change with the push of a button.”

The best-known of Poole’s work is probably what he wrote for WTSP TV-10:





“It’s sort of repetitious,” concedes Poole, “but that punchline — ‘Think of 10′ — that hits home.”

If Jeff Arthur rules the Bay area’s jingle fiefdom, Howard Kleinfeld and Kent Smith are his rock ‘n’ roll princes. Both are graduates of the Arthur jingle mill, grateful for the experience but anxious to make their own marks.

Kleinfeld, 31, grudgingly relinquished a career as a rocker to pursue a lucrative, rising reputation as a different kind of jingle writer.

“I try to make my jingles sound like songs,” says the director of On The Air Productions in St. Petersburg. “Jeff played a tape for me about how a jingle evolves. It was really well done. But that’s not the way I work. I sit down and play like a real rock ‘n’ roll guy. I play loud — REAL loud.”

A jingle by Howard Kleinfeld sounds completely different than a Jeff Arthur jingle.

For a frenetic, high-energy track created for Orlando-based Ron Jon Surf Shops (“WE’RE NOT ONE OF MANY / WE’RE ONE OF A KIND”), Kleinfeld took his inspiration from new wave British rocker Thomas Dolby. “I wanted to match the flavor of their billboards (which feature cartoon images illustrated with bright, neon colors) with the sound.” The music is so convincing, the writer plans to use a longer version in a song. “It doesn’t sound like a jingle,” he says. “When we present something like this, they’re blown away.”

The first jingle Kleinfeld wrote was for Thoroughbred Music in Tampa. Many of his clients come from the Orlando area, including a nightclub called Hollywood Nights (“THESE ARE THE NIGHTS TO REMEMBER”); Central Florida Magazine; Luigi B.G. Pizza Factory; Shoppes at Olympia Place; and St. Luke’s Cataract and Intraocular Lens Institute in Tarpon Springs.

For Luigi B.G., Kleinfeld created the kind of schticky, Italian tune he might have written under Arthur’s aegis:





“That’s a REAL jingle,” says Kleinfeld. “I like doing that. It’s a real challenge because I’m not familiar with Italian folk music.”

Kleinfeld has found himself in the position of having to redirect clients, as he did with the Sea Market, a seafood restaurant. “They said, ‘Make it sound like a Red Lobster commercial.’ I said, ‘Why? You want people to think of Red Lobster when they hear your ad?’ It takes time to build a good rep. And you’ve got to be aggressive.”

Kleinfeld is learning to be more aggressive in selling his own product; he’ll mount his first direct mail campaign this summer.

Kent Smith, proprietor of SoundSmith Productions in Tampa, began composing music at the age of seven. He has spent time in bands, but never saw where his talents would take him until Jeff Arthur was a guest speaker in one of his classes at USF in 1980.

“He said, ‘Not everybody can write jingles,’” recalls Smith. “I said, ‘I can.’ I started working for him a week later.”

After two years in Arthur’s employ, Smith moved to North Carolina for a time. He advertised nationally and attracted a loyal stable of clients who have stuck with him over the years. He does or has done work for: Flama Cola (a Puerto Rican version of Pepsi, only spicier); Carolina Circle Mall in N.C.; Four Seasons Realty in St. Paul, Mn.; Fresh Market in North Carolina; and Belk Lindsey.

One of his most amusing aural jingles, for Sheraton Hotels’ Charlie Goodnight Restaurants, won an Addy Award:


AT (Sound of a whip cracking) CHARLIE GOODNIGHT.




Smith, 31, says his greatest thrill came this spring when a promotional ditty he wrote for WTVT TV-13 aired during a commercial break in the Grammy Awards. “I thought — ‘My music made it to the Grammys!’”

Despite recognition and plaudits for their work, neither Smith nor Kleinfeld are gaining new business or recognition as fast as they would like for their jingle work.

“To be a successful jingle writer you have to have a sales force,” says Smith, who works alone and relies on word-of-mouth and referrals. “That’s something Jeff has done well. That, and getting his name out.”

Perhaps the most striking contrast between Arthur and his graduates is their studios. Arthur has a large, traditional recording facility with a baby grand piano, soundproof glass, two production studios and a full staff. Smith runs SoundSmith Productions from a room the size of a closet with keyboards and recording equipment stacked from floor to ceiling; Kleinfeld operates On The Air Productions in a spare room of his home. Smith and Kleinfeld are one-man-bands, writing, producing and even performing their own work. (Kleinfeld does have a partner in Orlando, Tim Coons, who acts as salesman and helps polish the finish product.) Another difference: personal computers. Smith has stored thousand of digitized instrument sounds, from synthesized strings to saxophones, on a Macintosh Plus.

“The Mac is librarian for everything I do,” he says. “When I first started out people said, ‘Those are strings?’”

Smith’s computer didn’t come easy. It wasn’t just a case of saving up to buy it or taking out a loan. He earned it through his work. It seems that sometimes, jingle writing requires more than just a fertile imagination; occasionally it calls for a mathematical sense of meter. At least that’s what it took Smith to write his Addy award-winning theme for “Carolina Biological Supply Computer Store”:





“They wouldn’t let me shorten the name or anything,” says Smith, still amazed he accomplished the job. “That’s how I got my computer. They figured anybody that could sell a name that long deserved it.”

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Copyright 2012 Will Eisner: A Spirited Life by Bob Andelman

The Accio Actors present: TREK (Trailer)

If you missed “Trek The Musical” this weekend at the Studio @ 620, click the video below for a little taste of what you missed. (And here’s a hint: that’s my daughter Rachel Jeanie Chekov Andelman in the forefront of the screen capture below. She danced and sang as a sexy crewwoman in the first act and returned in the second as Ensign Chekov.) Watch for the entire show to be on YouTube later this month!

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Copyright 2012 Will Eisner: A Spirited Life by Bob Andelman