Judy Merrill Weiss

As one of the only female copywriters on several high-testosterone accounts,  Judy Merrill Weiss was a bit of a trailblazer. “Actually, it was jaw-dropping,”  Weiss says, of her work for Tri-State Cadillac at Avrett Free Ginsberg. “It was highly unusual for a woman to be working on a car account. But our spots were really neat—we showed the Cadillac zooming around a track between cones to demonstrate how well it handled. Like a Porsche or Mercedes. Not your grandfather’s Caddy.”

When Gene Case and Helmut Krone started their agency, Case & Krone, in 1969,  Weiss was the first--and only—writer they hired. “They had Jock magazine,” she says, laughing. “It was strange to be the only woman there, writing ads for a sports magazine,” adding emphatically, “I’m not a sports person.” But her outline drawing of a guy named Stanley for the Stanley Cup was used in a print ad. “I was amazed,”  Weiss says. “Because I assure you, I cannot draw.”

It’s always hoped that a great campaign idea will surface from focus group sessions. But when Weiss was at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, the comments on White Cloud toilet tissue were puzzling. “We asked the focus group, all women, how they used White Cloud. They’d say things like ‘to blot lipstick’ or ‘wipe down the sink.’ They were too embarrassed to answer the question.” And to think, today’s ads are all about “enjoying the go.”

How many people can say they’ve worked with a cat wrangler? Weiss encountered one on the Purina Cat Chow account. “When you ask an actor to do something,  he does it. But a cat will just turn his back on you and lift his tail,” explains Weiss.  “So we’d give the cat wrangler an advance look at our storyboard. And then he’d tell us when that cat was ready to shoot.”