My very first assignment at Young & Rubicam New York in 1972 was to work on the Rums of Puerto Rico account.  We promoted the many rums that were produced on the island, which included Bacardi, Don Q, and more.  We ran some elegant advertising focusing on the white version of the rum as a mixer, showing very trendy people in romantic situations.

We ran an ad that the client particularly liked mixing rum with hot apple cider. This got me thinking about the new and different cocktails we might develop featuring white rum. So I got a stack of cocktail recipe books to see what other ideas we might be able to use either in advertising or promotional material.

I found a lot of them with various types of rum. I went to my bosses, Al Paris and Fred Goldberg (who later was CEO of Chiat Day and Goldberg Moser O’Neill) and asked for some money to buy some liquor to do some testing.

I guess this is where advertising is a different type of work.  Some 20 year old asks for money to buy liquor and they gave it to me.  So off I went to buy a whole lot of bottles of various rums, cordials, and other ingredients to make a list of about 20 t0 25 cocktails.

Y&RNY had a test kitchen on the second floor of our building that was used to develop and test recipes.  Mostly we used them for food recipes that we were going to feature in ads since Y&R had many food products we did the advertising for.

I booked some time with the kitchen staff for recipe development.  Little did the Home Economists know that the recipes were cocktails.

I arrived with a couple boxes full of liquor bottles and a stack of recipes for them to prepare.  They were surprised and claimed not to be expert at mixology, but we pressed on with our explorations and prepared the cocktails on the list.  We invited my bosses down and we sampled the array.  The Home Economists joined in.  Pretty soon we were all fairly well lubricated and having a great time.

Two things came out of this exercise. Firstly, the Y&R Home Economists became very supportive whenever I had some products or recipes to test.

Secondly, I came up with a small table tent idea for our client.

It featured a rum daiquiri than had a blended date in it which was probably the nicest of our strange cocktails.  It also had a somewhat obscure rum and brandy cocktail called Between the Sheets and a more complicated rum cocktail featuring 3 types of rums and was sold at Trader Vic’s Tiki Bars called the Suffering Bastard.  We named the date daiquiri the Blind Date.

So the table tent read Blind Date – Between the Sheets – Suffering Bastard.  The client thought it was fun enough to print up a batch.

These were much better than our rejected recipe, rum with prune juice which I dubbed the Rum Runner.

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