He brought good ads to life
By Patricia Sellers

(FORTUNE Magazine) – If you've ever associated Pepsi with youth or thought of Visa as ubiquitous, then you're familiar with Phil Dusenberry, former chairman of BBDO North America and the most renowned big-agency creative out there. In his new memoir, Then We Set His Hair on Fire, he explains how he turned his big insights into profits.

Each chapter features a brand-building lesson ("Standing for Something," "Moving the Needle") wrapped around an amusing mini-drama delivered with charm and wit. We learn how in1979, while pitching General Electric, he got stuck on the line "We make the things that make life good." He knew it was terrible, and in a taxi one day before presenting to Jack Welch "We bring good things to life" popped into his head. The tag line endured for 24 years. Pitching down-and-out Visa in 1985, Dusenberry and his team found research showing that Visa was accepted at five times as many places as AmEx. From that insight sprang "Visa. It's everywhere you want to be." The book's title refers to an incident in 1984 when a fire on the set of a commercial flamed Michael Jackson's mane--giving Pepsi an unexpected PR boost. Though Dusenberry dodges the question of how today's creatives can be as influential as he was in the heyday of the 30-second spot, he drives home the importance of the big insight. For these memoirs, that's big enough. -- Patricia Sellers