Richard Golden's fast pacedimage drives one of the
nation's largest eye-wear chains.
Special to the Jewish News
recalls Bruce Kahn, Golden's friend and
lawyer. "The immigration officer on the
American side didn t believe him when
he said he was Richard Golden. He said
he could tell if he was really Richard
Golden by the way he danced, and told
him to get out of the car.
"Richard did, and went into his Sexy
Specs dance. The officer looked at him
and said, 'Well, I guess you really are
Richard Golden,' and waved us on."
Yet adman Sussman had second
thoughts about the award-winning
image of Golden he helped mold.
"Being on TV wasn't his idea. He was
not that comfortable with it [at first],"
recalls Sussman. "Viewers become skep-
tical if something is not built out of real-
ity. I think the commercials with him
appearing in them ran their course."
e sings. He dances. He rides
a horse. He rides a Harley.
But above all, Richard
Golden sells. He is a pitch-
man par excellence.
At the peak of his commercial expo-
sure as the spokesman for his D.O.0
optical chain, he was the most visible
Jew on television. His former ad guru,
Alan Sussman, who put Golden into
your living room long before
LoanGiant's Andy Jacobs and Florine
Mark of Weight Watchers embraced the
medium, often told Golden he was seen
more on Michigan television than the
Now Golden has taken one of the
bb gambles in his career. His last
advertising campaign, created by the
W.B. Doner Agency in Southfield and
filmed in Buenos Aires, did not feature
him — not his image nor his voice. Will
Golden's carefully crafted persona survive
any prolonged absence from the air-
waves? And can he regain the instant
identification, much less adulation, he
received from the public over the past 14
Golden said Doner is "no longer our
agency of record." He has split the media
and creative aspects of the account, plac-
ing the former with Media...Period, the
Bloomfield Hills agency in which former
Doner guru Harvey' Rabinowitz is a
Golden said he hasn't committed him-
self to choosing an agency to handle cre-
ative. He wrote and produced the new
radio advertising campaign that debuted
over the airwaves May 27 but doubts if
he will produce any television spots in-
Golden was equally tightlipped as to
whether he will return as D.O.C.
spokesman. However, he said he would
be actively involved in all phases of
future advertising campaigns.
Golden has never worn a white coat
on any of his television ads, yet people
he meets insist on calling him "Doctor."
His friends, like builder Burt Farbman of
the Farbman Group, say he's often asked
to sign autographs, and once even per-
formed a dance to prove his identity.
"We were coming back from Windsor
and it was sometime after Sept. 11,"
"It is very difficult for people to remem-
ber anything they see, no matter how
good the commercials are. They simply
wear out. The public starts to think of
you as an egomaniac, unless you're a
Dave Thomas," said Sussman, speaking
of the late founder of the Wendy's fast-
food chain, who appeared in all the
"You just have to go the other way,"
added Sussman. "[Golden] was doing
too many things. And he was having too
much fun doing them. America sees that
What happened professionally
between Golden and his guru? "He said
something to me I just won't take from
anybody I'm working with," said
Sussman. Pressed for an answer, Sussman
quipped, "'You're fired.'"
However the two remain close friends.
And as Sussman says, "I'm not dead. I've
got Henry Ford OptimEyes as a client
Yet Golden was a little surprised by
Sussman's push. Said Golden of
Sussman, "He had cautioned me that
coming off TV would seriously jeopard-
ize our brand and business. That was
said constantly, right until the end [of
our business relationship]."
Golden may be the most savvy ad
man ever to not have his own agency.
His knowledge of merchandising, which
he honed during his years at legendary
rock radio superstation WABX, arguably
D.O.Cs Richard Golden
is equaled by few in the industry. So why
hasn't he gone in-house for his advertis-
ing instead of opting for an industry
giant like Doner?
"I'm not going to take exception to
that quote about being savvy," said
Golden. Indeed, creating an in-house
agency may be a viable option for him
down the road. "I know the best of pro-
ducers, directors, writers and graphic
persons whom I could out-source.
I could put together a real all-star team. I
always consider that a possibility," he
At this point, one thing looks as cer-
tain as death and taxes. Golden will soon
be back on your screen — and hopefully
dancing his way back into the heart of
consumers. "There is a danger in taking
an icon away from a company, whether
it is Tony the Tiger or Lee Iacocca. It cre-
ates a rhythm," said Golden.
Behind his flamboyant Rodeo Drive
image lurks a businessman and merchan-
diser who has seen the sales volume of
his family firm grow from $9 million in
1977 when he joined the company to
FAST LANE on page 86