It's An Ad Ad Ad Ad World

by , Mar 19, 2012, 7:49 AM
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“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.

3 comments on "It's An Ad Ad Ad Ad World".

  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited
    commented on: March 19, 2012 at 10:19 a.m.
    This show has a life of its own and Dorothy Parker hopefully will be back ! Plus, may women remember how it really was and make sure we don't return as some would wont us to do.
  2. Jimmy Bogroff from Emerge Interactive
    commented on: March 19, 2012 at 2:50 p.m.
    I can't wait. My wife and I had never watched this before last fall, when we finally sat down to watch it one night on Netflix. Similar to that Portlandia episode where Fred Armisten watches Battlestar Gallactica non-stop, my wife and I found ourselves spending all of our free time watching this show. Imagine our disappointment when we find at the end of S4 that there is a production gap and that S5 doesn't launch for another 6 months! Nothing compared to the rest of you who have been waiting 18 months, right? Stoked for the premiere!
  3. Michael Forbes from TheVodkaParty
    commented on: March 20, 2012 at 11:38 a.m.
    My second job in advertising was in the mid-80s at an agency where a number of rusting hulks of the original "Mad Men" had ended up. The agency was famous for its “creative” on behalf of Swingline Staples with an ad that showed a paper clip over the headline, “Our only competition.” There was a bar in the main conference room, you had to carefully manage your day to make sure you didn't need anything from certain account supervisors after their 3-martini lunches and fistfights occasionally broke out in the hallways over creative or production issues. I remember when we hired a female law-school grad as a junior copywriter, they routinely referred to her as "the new tomato"...no really. I had just moved over from my first job (at Wunderman) which was by then very progressive and modern, so it was a real eye-opening experience. In tribute to those old guys, I'm going to celebrate the Mad Men Season 5 premiere with an authentic early-60s vodka party. I've been archiving original promo cocktail party planning pamphlets from the early 60s and I've got the perfect party planner. Here’s an original vintage promo pamphlet with swinging vintage hors d'oeuvres and cocktail recipes displayed with real Mad Men-era style. I especially like the Avocado Dip (like a frothy guacamole) and a Moscow Mule to wash it down. Here's a link to the original "How to Give a Vodka Party" guide: http://thevodkaparty.com/vintage-sexist-advertising/

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