Ad Man: True Stories from the Golden Age of Advertising
Such high stakes rendered intense, sometimes-vicious rivalries among ad firms inevitable. Veteran advertising exec Jerry Della Femina recalls work days that included the quintessential three-martini-lunches, liquor bottles hidden in desk drawers, offices filled with cigarette smoke, and motel rooms rented by the hour. According to him, a particular agency even held a vote for each gender to determine the person that they would most like to sleep with.
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The winning couple was awarded a weekend at the Plaza Hotel. By the end of the s, a looming economic recession and emphasis on market research sucked much of the creativity out of the industry, with accountants and business administrators assuming many of the roles once held by the agency's more creative types. With that, the Mad Men era was over. And though that era may recede from memory with each passing year, its legacy lives on in the photos above. Next, check out 19 surprising Mad Men facts that you probably don't know.
Then, have a look at 23 delicious Mad Men -era dishes that America shouldn't have given up on. By All That's Interesting.
Bigger! Better! Richer! The golden age of advertising | The Independent
Like this gallery? Share it: Share Tweet Email. A Madison Avenue advertising executive walks to a client visit. Madison Avenue ad agency employees at work in the office.
Circa Mary Wells Lawrence, one of the few female ad executives during the s. At work in the office on Madison Avenue.
Waiting for the elevator in a Madison Avenue high-rise office building. Ad agency employees work on the floor of their offices. New York advertising executives at work. People crowd into an elevator in a Madison Avenue high-rise. Ad executives work on a project. A copywriter named Charlie Moss speaks at a pitch meeting. A New York advertising executive leaves for work.
It meant the creatives' job — having big ideas and using the best directors, photographers and graphics people to realise them — was central, more important than client handling, clever research and big-bang media planning — all the old "scientific advertising" skills. New creative agencies were called "hot-shops" and the biggest, longest-established, most American agencies copied their work and hired their creatives to steal some of the excitement. They couldn't lose then. With new money and new products coming on-stream, media scarcity only one commercial TV channel until the s , and a weirdly generous payment system based on a percentage of the clients' media spend, one big idea could generate millions of revenue for an agency.
And a life high off the hog for the key men and a few creative women. Top admen put on a great show.
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They knew that what their clients wanted, coming from the North or David Brent-ish office parks in Basingstoke, was glamour, so the front-of-house areas — reception and meeting rooms — always looked fantastic. As Lord Bell, then the Saatchi's main client handler, told us, "I used to get up in the morning and imagine that somebody had said 'Turnover Through the s and into the s, British advertising became more admired — the best in the world, seemed to be the consensus — and more ambitious.
It sold more complex and expensive products — moving from little things like soap and shampoo, soup and sausages, to trains and boats and planes — and services like retailing and holidays. They wanted to build a global business through acquisitions. They started by building a national brand, becoming the first advertising agency most people outside marketing-land had ever heard of, starting with assiduous PR in the trade and business press, then moving into national media.
They had a big story. This gave them shaman status and raised the profile of advertising overall. The Saatchi combination of creativity, perceived political-insider status, and substantive business success was irresistible. People talked about Saatchi's in the same way then as they did about the American investment banks — as a power in the Great World and a high-status employer.
In the s the Thatcher government entrusted advertising with bigger, more important jobs, from social engineering — selling a range of government initiatives like the anti-drug campaigns — to helping re-structure the economy by selling shares in the privatisations BA, BT, BG, etc , with famous campaigns like British Gas's "Tell Sid" privatisation work. But it was also the beginning of the end, marked by the company's bid to acquire the Midland Bank, then a pillar of the economy.
The bid was rejected in a way that was taken to mean advertising had over-reached its natural mark. As the economy boiled over and went into recession at the end of the decade, rattled analysts were increasingly critical of advertising and marketing stocks as over-valued. From the s on, the growing force in UK advertising was the Saatchi's former finance director, Martin Sorrell and his deliberately unglamorous-sounding holding company WPP, a business carefully presented as sober, corporate and well-managed.
No more Big Lunch culture. No more divas. WPP acquired businesses in research, direct marketing, design and corporate branding across the world to spread the risk from creative advertising into more practical, modest, recession-resistant areas.follow
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The Golden Agers saw it as the beginning of the end. Sorrell now Sir Martin , a Harvard MBA, was happy to be called a bean-counter while he built his massive business, the second largest "marcoms" group in the world. He thinks this is the Golden Age, with new media and the opening up of China and India to consumerism, with infinitely exciting business challenges that dwarf the old British battles.
Certainly that Britishness is becoming increasingly irrelevant as advertisers look for ideas that work across cultures and languages — which means there's less room for jokes about correct English pronunciation or the symbolism of the Raj. Modern life's central dilemma at a stroke. The awful choice between personal gratification and traditional loyalties. And this commercial doesn't flunk it.
The little girl chooses her future — chips — over her father. This was the James Bond-y Euroluxe style for little English people, selling lovely sweet red vermouth. The best presentation of that Sixties dream world by far. An astonishingy elegant way to re-habilitate a car brand — and it pioneers the use of opera as the music track. I'm cheating here. TV cigarette advertising had been banned by , so this is a cinema ad. They could never make it now — John Bird in blackface as an African chief! At last an advertisement for Sloanes! And very well-realised too.
The darling girl gets taught to speak 'Stenders-style. David Bailey's commercial is so s it's killing. Paula Hamilton looks so Diana-like. And the fur coat left on a pole in the mews! The point about Jaguar is their accessible, obvious-to-the-meanest-intelligence gorgeousness.
And this commercial outs it with an ommphingly gorgeous updated Martini-world thing about beautiful people with beautiful houses in gorgeous tarty old South of France. This is lovely any way — any commercial featuring a cat, a dog and a mouse has it half-made. But getting them together in a loving relationship is fantastic.
This had me on the floor when I first saw it back in the s and I still love it. I'm a sucker for anything involving funny dogs. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists? Try Independent Premium free for 1 month.
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