“Mad Men” Mania is upon us this week as Newsweek devotes this week’s issue to a retro look at the watershed 1960s, the era in which the long-awaited Season Five of the drama is situated. We learn from coverage elsewhere that everybody from Estée Lauder to the Grand Central Oyster Bar to books with Mad Men (and Women) themes hope to hop aboard the express when it pulls out of the station a week from tonight.
“It is hard to overstate the hype surrounding the return of Mad Men, whose long period away from U.S. television screens was caused by complex contractual negotiations prompted by its massive global success” writes Paul Harris in The Guardian.
Newsweek/Daily Beast editor-in-chief Tina Brown writes in an introduction to the issue that Hill Holliday creative director Lance Jensen suggested that it would be “eye-catching” for the pages to “reflect not just the editorial look of the ’60s but also the advertising idiom of the time.”
As a result, “creative directors from agencies all over were diving into their vaults to dust off visuals from old accounts like Spam, Tide, Dunkin Donuts and Hush Puppies,” Brown writes. “Ad agencies like Brand Cottage, not around in those days, went retro just for kicks.”
And, Brown writes gleefully, “I spent a happy hour before Christmas trawling through ancient footage at the BBDO agency that featured an on-camera office tour conducted by a voice of God. A snippet: ‘And here we are at the entrance of Madison Avenue’s thriving advertising agency with that requisite of all successful agencies, a very attractive receptionist’ (zoom in on winsome blonde).’”
Other advertisers in the issue include Allstate, Benetton, Bloomingdale’s, British Airways, Domtar paper, John Hancock, Geico, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, New York Life, Old Forester bourbon, Triumph motorcycles, Ultimat vodka and Johnnie Walker, Stuart Elliott reports in the New York Times, as well as the aforementioned Estée Lauder, which is introducing “a Mad Men Collection of makeup in colors and packages inspired by the brand’s products of the era.”
Stories include a retrospective by distinguished Newsweek Washington correspondent Eleanor Clift, who began her career as a secretary back in the day.
“When I started …,” she writes, “[I was] thrilled to be where what I typed was interesting. I was the daughter of immigrants, my father had a deli, and my mother made the potato salad and rice pudding. It didn’t occur to me that I could be a reporter or a writer, but the frustrations that within the decade would produce a women’s movement were taking root at Newsweek.”
Indeed, Robin Givhan answers the burning question, “Where have all the cone bras gone,” in a piece titled “The Evolution Of The Bra, From Mad Men's Day To Our Own.” In one ad from the era illustrating the piece, a woman sits atop a desk with both a blue and a pink rotary-dial phone, chatting with a big grin on her face but wearing nothing else except a knee-length skirt and a cone bra. “I dreamed I went to work in my maidenform® bra,” the ad reads.
In a bonus video on The Daily Beast website, legendary art director George Lois talks about the creation of the Volkswagen “Think Small” ad with his partner, copywriter Julian Koenig who came up with the line before “the ad took on a life of its own.”
AP travel editor Beth J. Harpaz has a piece about New York bars and hotels that are cashing in on the fervor for the show. The Roosevelt Hotel, for example, “where Don stayed after his wife Betty threw him out, is offering a ‘Mad Men in the City’ package, starting at $425 a night through June 30, so guests can "experience New York City as Don Draper would,’” Kevin Croke, the hotel's director of sales and marketing, tells Harpaz.
“The package includes accommodations, '60s-era themed cocktails at the hotel's lobby-level Madison Club Lounge or its rooftop bar, called mad46. Guests also get a DVD of the show's fourth season, a copy of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, and tickets to the Paley Center for Media … where the hotel has reserved a screening booth for viewing ads from the era.”
The Guardian’s Harris reports that “fashionable clothes and shoes with a distinctively 1960s look are all the rage” in U.S. shopping malls and he says that the “show has also spawned a mini-publishing boom. There are two Mad Men cookbooks,” in fact, “which feature retro recipes such as Waldorf salad and oysters Rockefeller. There is a guide to imbibing called How to Drink Like a Mad Man, a reprint of a genuine 1962 humorous tome called The 24-Hour Drink Book: A Guide to Executive Survival.”
A gallery of seminal ‘Mad Men’-Era covers -- the Warren Commission Report on the Kennedy assassination (10/4//64) and “Harlem: Hatred in the Streets: (8/4/64), for example -- is accompanied by representative ads from the pages within. All are either for cigarettes or alcohol. Remember “Flavor that goes with fun.” That’s from Winston, which famously “tastes good…like a cigarette should.” And “The Gold Standard of Living,” which is for Old Grand Dad bourbon.
Paul Carr’s essay published in the Saturday edition of the Wall Street Journal –- “How I Stopped Drowning in Drink” –- clearly would have been as timely a read back then as it is today.