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Phyllis Robinson: First Female Copy Chief Knew Risk and Reward

After graduating from Barnard College, Phyllis Robinson had various copywriting jobs before securing a spot at Grey Advertising. There she met Bill Bernbach, who would eventually hire her in 1949 as the first female copy chief at newly founded Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB).

Robinson’s wit and audacity showed through in her writing. One of her most controversial lines “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s Real Jewish Rye,” paired with visuals featuring people of different ethnicities, prompted her fame in the advertising world. “I found out about Joan” and “Would you do it?” were lines Robinson coined for Ohrbach’s department stores. Her work with Polaroid helped put the brand on the map by fostering the legitimacy of instant cameras.

On March 8, 2017, DDB honored Robinson for International Women’s Day by changing their name to DDB&R for one day only.