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Levy’s ad campaign: “You don’t have to be Jewish” (1961–70s)

Contributed by Stephen Coles on Sep 12th, 2016. Artwork published in .
    Levy’s ad campaign: “You don’t have to be Jewish” (1961–70s) 1
    Source: http://www.auction.fr License: All Rights Reserved.

    Doyle Dane Berbach’s famous campaign for Levy’s Jewish Rye bread. The copywriting was by Judy Protas

    “We had a local bread, real Jewish bread, that was sold widely in Brooklyn to Jewish people,” she told The New York Times in 1979. “What we wanted to do was enlarge its public acceptance. Since New York is so mixed ethnically, we decided to spread the good word that way.”

    … The Levy’s campaign, conceived by Mr. Bernbach and the art director William Taubin, featured photographs of conspicuously non-Jewish New Yorkers — a black boy, Asian and Native American men and a robed choirboy among them — blissfully contemplating a slice of the company’s rye.

    The ads were aimed primarily at the metropolitan area, where, exploiting a singular New York delivery system, they appeared chiefly in the subways. Long part of the day-to-day texture of the city, they were so striking that they drew a national following and were sold individually as posters.

    … and the design by William Taubin.

    Sean Adams:

    When I’m teaching, I show a 1958 Edsel ad to explain a boring ad. It’s a photo of a car and the copy tells me it’s a car. On the other end of the spectrum is a campaign like the Levy’s Rye Bread campaign from 1964. I see the product, but the copy asks me to do some work. It relies on the viewer’s cultural knowledge. It demystifies a product that might be considered exotic in 1964. And the final takeaway is a sense of humor and success. “Oh, I get it, the policeman must be Irish.” If you ad the fact that most ads in 1964 had a whole bunch of white people and nobody else, these are even more striking.

    Early versions of the ad had tightly spaced type, while later versions (or perhaps only the poster reproductions) were spaced looser.
    Source: http://www.internationalposter.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    Early versions of the ad had tightly spaced type, while later versions (or perhaps only the poster reproductions) were spaced looser.

    Levy’s ad campaign: “You don’t have to be Jewish” (1961–70s) 3
    Source: http://www.lib.umich.edu License: All Rights Reserved.
    Levy’s ad campaign: “You don’t have to be Jewish” (1961–70s) 4
    Source: http://www.lib.umich.edu License: All Rights Reserved.
    Levy’s ad campaign: “You don’t have to be Jewish” (1961–70s) 5
    Source: https://www.burningsettlerscabin.com License: All Rights Reserved.
    Levy’s ad campaign: “You don’t have to be Jewish” (1961–70s) 6
    Source: https://www.burningsettlerscabin.com License: All Rights Reserved.
    Buster Keaton
    Source: http://www.lib.umich.edu License: All Rights Reserved.

    Buster Keaton

    Levy’s ad campaign: “You don’t have to be Jewish” (1961–70s) 8
    Source: http://www.dpvintageposters.com License: All Rights Reserved.
    “Malcolm X liked the poster featuring the black child so much that he had himself photographed alongside it.” — The New York Times
    Source: http://www.cheapstrat.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    “Malcolm X liked the poster featuring the black child so much that he had himself photographed alongside it.” — The New York Times

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    1 Comment on “Levy’s ad campaign: “You don’t have to be Jewish” (1961–70s)”

    1. Eliot Kenin says:
      Aug 11th, 2018  5:49 am

      I’m looking for the poster that preceded the “You don’t have to be Jewish” campaign. It showed a giant sandwich with many kinds of meat and many kinds of vegetables with a wood skewer stuck in it with a pickle on the  skewer.  The copy just said “Levy’s Rye Bread”.  It has excited my foodist brain ever since.  How do I contact the the Levy’s company or the advertising company to ask about it?

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