Piano keys are reflected in Roy Eaton's glasses as he plays a jazz tune inside the GenRe auditorium at UConn Stamford before his talk there in Stamford, Conn., on Monday, April 28, 2014. Roy is among the first black advertising executives. He was as a copyrighter and jingle composer at Young & Rubicam. Photo: Jason Rearick
AfriClassical frequently features the pianist Roy F. Eaton, who has a website at royeaton.net
First black 'Mad Man' gives talk in Stamford
Roy Eaton, first black man in New York City ad biz, gives talk in Stamford
Published 9:15 pm, Monday, April 28, 2014
On a hot July day in 1955, Roy Eaton walked into the New York offices of advertising giant Young & Rubicam and made what seemed like an impossible request.
An out-of-work pianist trained in classical music, he asked for a job as a composer.
Eaton, fresh out of the Army, didn't even know the business that Y&R was in. He sought out the company only after receiving an answer to an inquiry he made about the name of the piano concerto used in "Goodyear Playhouse," an NBC television show that Y&R sponsored.
Aside from that, there was one other obvious but unspoken obstacle: Eaton was a black man knocking on the doors of a white man's industry.
Out of that unlikely situation came a nearly 30-year-career that rivals any of the jaw-dropping storylines written for the AMC television series "Mad Men" and its protagonist, Don Draper.
"Adversity is a gift, not a liability," he said.
Now retired from the profession, Eaton, who was inaugurated into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 2010, has experienced renewed fame as the first black "Mad Man." A copywriter and composer, he is known for creating iconic jingles, including the catchy Beefaroni ditty and the modern jazz-inspired tune for Kent cigarettes.