S.F. Ad Club celebrates 100th birthday

The Greater San Francisco Ad Club celebrates its 100-year anniversary this week witha party and retrospective on the transbay organization, which formed in the aftermath of the great 1906 earthquake.

“After the fire, there were a lot of people that were hurting in San Francisco who came to Oakland,” GSFAC Board Chairman Dan Gulart said.

Then called the Advertising Club of Oakland, the group was part of a nationwide trend among advertising agencies and printers to form clubs and set standards for a previously unethical business, according to a 1966 book produced by the club. Over the years, it grew from an informal social organization meeting in Oakland’s Forum restaurant to a major business group that led World War II bond drives and spawned the East Bay Better Business Bureau. Within the past 10 years, the renamed Greater San Francisco Ad Club gained more San Francisco and Peninsula firms, especially after the collapse of the San Francisco Ad Club.

But it was through its association with Vietnam-era rock and roll that the Bay Area made its mark in radio and television advertising, according to some local industry veterans.

“There were great musicians all around,” said Bob Dini, 74, of Pasadena, who worked the Bay Area ad scene from 1963 through 1988. “I can’t name all the good creativity that came out of the 1960s and 1970s.”

Dini was one of more than a dozen advertisers who contributed historic commercials to the 100th anniversary celebration, including spots for Rice-a-Roni and one for Berkeley Farms voiced by Mel Blanc and publicized by columnist Herb Caen. Dini particularly credited his old boss, Warren Pera of Cappel, Pera & Reed for many innovations in humorous radio ads, such as using the talents of top KSFO morning broadcaster Don Sherwood.

A central figure in the area’s industry was Hal Riney, the famous ad man who, among other things, produced President Ronald Reagan’s “Monday Morning in America” campaign, as well as the 1968 song “We’ve only just begun,”a Crocker Bank jingle that later became a hit when the Carpenters recorded it.

Other local ideas included the “Magic of Clorox” and “California Raisins” TV ads and the Pillsbury Doughboy.

Today, the ad club has 140 members, and is part of American Advertising Federation. Its party will be from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. today at DDB-SF, 555 Market St, Fifth Floor, San Francisco. Tickets range from $25 to $40. More information is available at www.gsfadclub.org.

kwilliamson@examiner.com

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