In the first part of this warm and funny memoir Al Hampel relates his life growing up a poor kid in the industrial city of Paterson, New Jersey. He attends the Y camp in nearby Pennsylvania as a charity case wearing hand-me-down donations with labels featuring assorted names he never heard of. Just the beginning of his identity crisis he writes. After high school with WW II in full swing he enlists in the Navy and serves on a repair ship in the Pacific. With benefits from the GI bill Hampel earns a degree in marketing from NYU. Following a series of small time copywriting jobs, Al lands a position in Young&Rubicam, an ad agency he could only dream of joining . Y&R was considered the most creative of all the shops on Madison Avenue. He recounts his rise through the ranks, stepping around and over the very talented copywriters who wrote the award winning advertising that set Y&R apart. Along the way he describes the ads and the work habits that helped him scale the Everest of copy departments to become copy chief. Hampel was a pioneer in the writing of cast or integrated commercials. He would get the scripts of the most popular TV shows weeks in advance and write a minute second ending tailored to the story line of the entire episode. The second ending contained the sponsor’s commercial. Viewers believed they were seeing a continuation of the show they were watching but instead they were exposed to a commercial seamlessly and entertainingly. Shows that Hampel wrote second endings for included, Jack Benny, Danny Thomas, Andy Griffith, Hogan’s Heroes, Lucy, Gomer Pyle, Jean Arthur, and Laugh In. In those years Hampel wrote the endings to more TV shows than any other writer for television. In the course of working on the Lay’s Potato Chip account Al chose Buddy Hackett to replace Bert Lahr who had been the beloved Lay’s spokesman before passing away. It was not an easy transition, but Al formed a close and mutually respectful relationship with Hackett that led to the creation of dozens of humorous spots and a profitable alliance for Frito Lay. In some of the funniest anecdotes in the book Hampel tells of his travels with Buddy, the Vegas years and the celebrities he meets along the way. One chapter describes, “How Buddy Hackett became the Lay’s Potato Chip spokesman and how he blew the job". In the 1970’s, Al Hampel wrote one line that he will ever be remembered for and that is now quoted in ad agencies the world over, “It’s Not Creative Unless It Sells.” Recently he updated the line in keeping with the surge of Internet advertising. “ From hits and views you can tell… everything but will it sell.”
As a youngster in Paterson, N.J., Al Hampel worked part time as a salesman in men's clothing stores. Concurrently he wrote a column for his school newspaper.Looking ahead he decided there was one career that combined both of his favorite pastimes, selling and writing. The choice was obvious. He would be an advertising copywriter. After a series of copywriting jobs in small ad agencies and companies around New Jersey, the ladder led to a copywriting job at Youg&Rubicam, one of Madison Avenue,s premier advertising agencies. Eventually he became copy chief, head of all copy in the agency. As copy chief, Hampel was able to write and influence some of advertising’s most notable ad campaigns.,including Jell-O, Lay’sPotato Chips,Beautyrest,J&J, Piel’s Beer, Eastern Airlines, Bulova, General Electric, Breck Hair Products, etc. After retiring from the ad business, AlHampel taught a course in advertising copywriting at the University of Arizona. He lives with his wife Dorothy in New York City.