Joseph Ehlinger copywriter recent photo

Long Story, Short, I Got Lucky

It was the luckiest day of my life. A large New York ad agency liked some funny, low-budget commercials I wrote at my first job in Philadelphia. They hired me on the spot. Cut to the next 18 years – whirlwind stints at Young & Rubicam, Bates, McCann-Momentum and Grey.

The work was disciplined and the stakes were high. I wrote national campaigns for well-known brands, including a number of new product launches. This meant developing product concepts, attending focus groups, creating storyboards, producing animatics and overseeing the final on-air commercials.

I spent a lot of time on soundstages, in edit studios and at recording sessions. And I learned quite a bit from gifted directors, editors, composers and engineers. When desktop video editing and audio recording became a reality, I was first in line.

This DIY interest extended to the digital realm, including building this website.

My hands-on knowledge in writing, video, audio and digital enables me to approach a project from a variety of angles. It also lets me write to the strengths of each particular medium.

To this day, I'm inspired by the passion, camaraderie and collaboration found in this business. And I'm very grateful to be a part of it.

You could say, I got lucky.

A Few Wins and an Epic Fail

Diageo Spirits – I helped win the top Diageo spirit brands for Colangelo Marketing (Omnicom), in Darien, CT. When I started, the shop had only Smirnoff as a liquor account. Subsequently, we won Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Tanqueray, Captain Morgan, Jose Cuervo, Bushmills, Ketel One, Ciroc and Bulleit Bourbon – every one of their best sellers. And we retained this BTL business for more than 10 years. See spirit work.

Super Bowl TV – I wrote the first Super Bowl commercial produced at Grey. It was for the launch of Kforce, an online recruiting firm that wanted to go head-to-head against the category leaders Monster and HotJobs. The spot generated 2.5 million hits on game day before the servers crashed. Yahoo and USA Today named it a Top 10 commercial. The client ended up so backlocked with applicants that they cancelled all future advertising. Mark this one as a win and a fail. See Super Bowl commercial.

PepsiCo Sierra Mist launch – I created a step-by-step Activation Guide that turned more than 9,000 employees at the PepsiCo bottling plants into sampling street teams for one extraordinary day. The results? Over five million samples distributed in 135 markets – the largest sampling event in PepsiCo history. I shot and edited footage of the NYC event. See Sierra Mist launch video.

Humira Digital Launch – This was a freelance project for Tribal DDB. The concept was to show the results of this new rheumatoid arthritis medicine from three different points of view: the patient, his wife and his doctor. I conducted the interviews and wrote the articles. See first website.

Coca-Cola Olympic Torch Relay – I served as the Creative Director for an experiential touring event that literally ran from LA to ATL in 84 days. I wrote and produced a 35 minute show that featured a live emcee and live video coverage. The show was performed twice a day at the cauldron lighting ceremonies (lunch and evening). A mobile Jumboton displayed the proceedings to the overflow crowds. I also served as the live TV Director, providing daily video feeds to local NBC affiliates along the route. (Bonus: I got to run the Olympic Torch.) See Coca-Cola Olympic Torch Relay video.

20th Century Fox Feature Films – I was the writer on a six person pitch team that won the $85 million dollar media account for Young & Rubicam. I wrote film positioning concepts and attended research focus groups for upcoming releases. I discussed the findings with Studio Chairman Joe Roth during post-production on "The Adventures of Ford Fairlane." Mark as a fail for the early film career of Andrew 'Dice' Clay.

KFC Colonel's Rotisserie Gold Introduction – A new product launch intended to directly compete against the rapid expansion of Boston Market. The campaign increased sales 17% and was extended to three months due to franchisee demand. A definite win. See KFC Rotisserie Gold commercial.

Shot with Michael Bay – It was during his pre-Transformers period when he worked at Propoganda Films. The spot was for a popcorn and peanut snack called Crunch 'n' Munch. We haven't collaborated since. (Although I'm still open to the idea.) Not really a win. More like bragging rights.

Ray Charles Sang My Lyrics – At the time, KFC was using his song "Hit the Road, Jack" for their campaign. I wrote lyrics for a new chicken sandwich TV commercial. Turns out the sandwich never launched, but the song remains. Listen to the lost track.

P&G Olean Introduction – Procter and Gamble sunk 30 years of research and over $500 million into developing Olean (Olestra), a new fat-free cooking oil. After multiple creative shootouts between two agencies, my campaign tested best. Despite intense public scrutiny, the launch generated $400 million in first year sales. Nevertheless, an epic fail. See P&G Olean launch campaign.

What else have I been up to? Check out my resume. Or even better, get in touch.