How To Get A Job In The Ad Business – The Charlie Moss Hiring Test

June 6, 2011

Charlie Moss

I consider myself a darn good sport in introducing Charlie Moss (the legendary creative head of Wells Rich Greene responsible for, among other things, the brilliant I Love New York campaign) to a copywriter named Greg Voornas.

Every once in a while a copywriter like Greg comes along, one of those rare talents who manage to be creative and consistent at the same time; the ones that are hungry, resourceful and never run out of juice. So it’s not surprising he was a key part of us winning the Microsoft business when Tom Cordner and I were Co-Creative Directors of Ogilvy & Mather, L.A. We had a solid line-up of stellar talent – many of whom had happily followed Tom from Chiat/Day – and Greg did an amazing job as one of the creative leads on the fabulous labyrinth that was Microsoft.

One day Greg walked into my office and told me he wanted to go to New York. This was not great news, but I knew very well the hypnotizing draw of New York City. New York is magic and I had some first-hand experience. Greg then went on to explain that he hated to walk away from Microsoft but perhaps he could land a job on, say, the IBM account. Which happened to be headed up by my old boss, Charlie Moss, when I was creative director of Wells Rich Greene’s L.A office.

Never one to stand in the way of another free place to stay to New York, I made the introduction and the rest was up to Greg. Well, Charlie liked Greg’s portfolio – which Greg had flown to him in New York – and was prepared to fly Greg in for a live meeting. So off Greg went to New York to meet the one and only Charlie Moss. Several days later I walked into my office to find a stunned and decidedly shaky Greg. He got the job, he said. And here’s what he told me about his interview with Charlie Moss.

First, Charlie flew him (and First-Class, doncha know) to New York. He was then taken directly to his waiting suite at the Plaza Hotel, from which he could get out and see New York a little before his interview the next morning at the Wells Rich Greene offices high up in the General Motors Building – located on 5th Avenue right across from the hotel.

He told me he’d never seen anything as posh as the Wells Rich Greene offices. Yes, I knew them well and in fact had spent a year or two working in the New York office. (As an art director told me when I first got there, “There are Picassos on the walls, but it doesn’t take long to find out they’re not for you.”) It would be later when Greg would see Mary’s (Wells) own suite of offices, personally decorated by the great Billy Baldwin and including both a private dressing room and a butler. Right. A butler.

Greg told me about being escorted to Charlie’s office for the interview. Which, he explained, was curiously brief.

“Charlie said he brought me all the way from L.A. for just one reason.”
“And that was?” I asked.
“To see if I was an asshole.”

Greg Voornas went on to become Vice President/Creative Group Head during his seven years on IBM at Wells, Rich, Greene New York.

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