Obituary: Tony Solomon
Tuesday 13 April 1993
TONY SOLOMON was one of the great characters of the post-war advertising scene.
Solomon was born in St John's Wood, London, in 1913, and educated at Highgate. He then went to Nuremberg to get to know both German and the family's jewellery business, before attending the Beaux Arts, in Paris, continuing his education in French and the Arts with particular emphasis on drawing and sculpture.
He joined Mather & Crowther Ltd (now Ogilvy & Mather Ltd) in 1936, in the Art department. The managing director at that time was Francis Ogilvy (David Ogilvy's brilliant elder brother), who was an inspiration to anyone fortunate enough to work for him. Solomon's career prospered and largely because of his presentation skills and his ability in dealing with clients he was soon transferred to become an account executive and subsequently an account director.
In 1939 Solomon went off to war; his fluency in German and French made him perfect casting for the role of Intelligence Officer with the 159 Brigade of the 11th Armoured Division where he served under Brigadier Jack Churcher. Solomon had a very distinguished war record. He was in the front line during the invasion of Normandy, his Brigade were the first into Antwerp, and he was there at the seizure of Belsen. Later, at Flensberg, the British uncovered a German Government Bureau. On General Montgomery's orders some 70 senior German officers were arrested, with Capt Tony Solomon taking a key role in the operation. Shortly afterwards he met a Danish woman named Birgitte Rosetzsky who was working with the Resistance; they were married in 1946 and remained perfect partners for 47 years.
After the war, Solomon returned to Mather & Crowther, handling large accounts with great aplomb. However, perceiving the developing need for advertising films, he joined Pearl & Dean and learnt how to make commercials as well as working as their highly successful new business director.
With the advent of commercial television in 1955 he was invited to join Dorland Advertising Ltd, largely because of his expertise in film-making. At that time Dorlands was an extremely conservative company with a low profile. Solomon brought dynamic professionalism and creative ideas to the agency as head of television and was soon elected to the board. He then contributed to promoting Dorlands as one of London's leading agencies.
His work there is legendary and includes the series for Dubonnet featuring Fernandal 'Do 'ave a Dubonnet' and one for Rose's lime juice - both were Schweppes brands, where the client was the great Frederick Hooper. His other clients included Alfred Cope of Copes Pools, Imperial Tobacco and Esso.
On one famous occasion when awaiting to record an Esso Blue Paraffin commercial the voice-over actor failed to put in an appearance. In frustration, Solomon said, 'Let me have a go at it,' in order to get the sound balance correct. He then said: 'I'm your Esso Blee Dooler' instead of 'Esso Blue Dealer', which brought the house down and formed the basis of the campaign. It was during this period that Solomon nurtured and encouraged some of the young people in the business who are now among today's leading film directors and producers, including Alan Parker and Hugh Hudson.
Tony Solomon was always punctual, well-groomed, and ready with a fund of wonderful anecdotes and stories. He was loved by his clients and colleagues as well as a vast array of friends in the business. He was always loyal to the world of advertising and was much respected for his strict ethical attitudes to how he believed business should be conducted.
In 1976 he semi-retired to take up the Chairmanship of the British Television Advertising Awards, not, as might have been forgiven, from a distance, but 'hands on' every day until recent ill-health slowed him down. It is acknowledged that his leadership brought the awards to be recognised throughout the world as the principal showcase for British advertising
At the last BTAA Awards Ceremony on 15 March Solomon was presented with a special commissioned Trophy - a 'Quiver of Arrows' - to mark his retirement as Chairman of BTAA.
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