Freeman may have only gotten a "B" in his copywriting class at Florida State University but the Mississippi-born writer went on to pen some of the industry's most famous slogans, including "Where's the Beef?" for Wendy's and "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't" for Almond Joy. Freeman, 60, began his career in 1971, on Coca-Cola at McCann Erickson, made a name for himself at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample and in 1987 started his own agency in New York, where he is chairman and CCO.
How did you get into advertising?
First, I wanted to be a stockbroker, because I imagined myself in a trench coat walking around in the rain with an umbrella, and I thought it would be cool. Then I started taking courses and didn't like any of them. Somewhere in college, coming out of my alcohol haze from my fraternity, I thought about advertising. That was in the '60s, when Doyle Dane, Mary Wells, Carl Ally—there were some great things being done. George Lois was doing all those wonderful Esquire covers. I was pretty enthusiastic about being in the industry.
What has changed the most in advertising since you started in the business?
I'm going to give credit to Crispin, not that other people hadn't tried to do this all along, but they sort of put a headline to it, trying to reach people in every medium and touch point ... which has changed the way that we approach getting a message out there. I am more proud today of being in this business than I ever have been. It's really exciting what we're doing for our clients. It's wider, broader and it's just fun.
What was the hardest moment of your career?
[Losing] Little Caesars was very hard. We got that when it was a tiny little brand with no awareness. It was a family-run business and I almost became a member of that family. It was the highest high in that we took the brand from a small base to a company of 4000 stores. You could walk down the street in Paris and people would say, "Pizza! Pizza!" I would go to the conventions, and I would be like Mick Jagger on the stage, an overwhelming feeling of achievement for thousands of franchinees and for this family and for Cliff Freeman and Partners. ... For it to come to that ending was like a personal betrayal.