MJB Coffee/Hal Riney

This radio commercial was an extension of a campaign personally created by the late, great Hal Riney (pictured above). 

Riney was an icon of San Francisco and American advertising. Long before I joined his staff, I remember how the creative folks would wait for whatever his next jewel might be. And he did not disappoint. Bartles & Jaymes. The launch of Saturn. Ronald Reagan’s re-election campaign, including “Bear In The Woods” and “It’s Morning Again In America.” Perrier. Henry Weinhard’s. John Deere. And MJB. 

He was probably the foremost advocate of branding in the advertising industry, at a time when branding wasn’t as fashionable as it is today. As a result of his vision and talent, he made a lot of money for himself, his staff and most importantly, his clients. 

Hal was not a guy to mince his words. His language colorful. I only mention this to give you an idea of the pressure of writing a script to extend his campaign. In his style. And he was going to do the voiceover. 

Lucky for me, Hal found the script acceptable. The day after he recorded it (I was not allowed to attend; what would be the point?) there was a significant bonus check on my desk. I was told Hal had said, “Not bad.” Which, along with the check, was about as good as it got. 

Hal passed away on March 24, 2008. He is missed. 

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4 responses to “MJB Coffee/Hal Riney

  • Chuck Guest

    Hal was a brilliant writer.
    (McCain needs him – sorry, couldn’t resist.)

    I was at HR&P for a year, as a secretary on the account side. It was my first job in the industry. I couldn’t ask for a more interesting place to work (sans the significant bonus checks). Being there, along with discovering Howard Gossage, compelled me to try my hand at copywriting. Almost 20 years later, I still refer to my dog-eared transcription of a speech Hal made about “Advertising Quality Products.” While style should be transparent, he was one of the rare few who could put his own indelible stamp on a campaign and make it better.

  • Barrett Rossie

    Thanks for posting Chuck! You’re right on all counts.

    You really nail it when you say style should be transparent. So often people try to copy Hal’s style and the result is an exercise in style, rather than effective communication.

    If you have transcribed Hal’s speech, I’d love to have a copy. It would be a great thing to share with the world.

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