Our men behind dancing ducks, singing piglets and a jingle that sticks in your head
By Mary Boone
Three simple words have linked Dennis Hinton ’66 and Saxon Rawlings ’65 for 25 years: Do the Puyallup. Hinton was a copywriter for Tacoma’s Cole & Weber ad agency when he developed the slogan for the Western Washington Fair back in 1976. As a rookie copywriter at the agency, Rawlings wasn’t part of the account team but the dancing sheep and pigs on the fair’s proposed letterhead sparked his creativity.
"It wasn’t my client, but I thought those dancing animals were pretty cool," says Rawlings. "I’m an old folk-music guy, so I went home, got out my guitar and started writing a jingle. I ended up playing it for the guys at the agency. Long story short, the client heard it and liked it and parts of it have been playing all these years."
"This business is kind of funny because you never know what will stick and what won’t, but ‘Do the Puyallup’ has definitely had staying power," says Hinton.
A political science major, Hinton was active in Sigma Nu fraternity, wrote for The Trail and played and coached tennis. He and his college sweetheart, Connie Hermsted Hinton ’65, have been married 35 years.
After 10 years with Cole & Weber, Hinton and a colleague, Dave Steel, left to form their own small agency: Hinton and Steel Advertising. The company was acquired in May 2000 by EMB Partners; Hinton is now co-creative director of the Seattle-based firm. The fair’s advertising campaign was in the hands of other agencies for many years, but in 1995 Hinton and his team regained the account.
Rawlings was born and raised in Tacoma but he hasn’t seen one of the Puyallup Fair commercials since he left the area in 1981.
"Since it was work done on behalf of the client, the agency required that I copyright the song in the name of the fair," says Rawlings. "If I’d known how long it was going to be used … well, let’s just say the thought of royalties has crossed my mind now and then."
Rawlings majored in English and minored in music at Puget Sound. During his 25-year advertising career, he’s worked for ad agencies, as a freelancer, and as an in-house copywriter on the corporate side. Now a senior copywriter for GERS Retail Systems in San Diego, Rawlings puts his musical skills to work playing bass with a church band. Rawlings and his wife, Denise Léger-Rawlings, live in Encinitas, Calif.