Since joining DDB just over 18months ago, I’ve gained an increased appreciation for the advertising world. Last summer, I even started to watch Mad Men…something I had resisted for quite some time. It’s fascinating to see what used to pass for normal business etiquette especially as we move further and further from that world.
Our worldwide CCO, Amir Kassaei, has spoken of the need to get back to the ethos of the Mad Men world, more precisely, the creative revolution sparked by “two irishmen and a jew” (Doyle, Dane and Bernbach) so in that context, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the writings of George Parker, one of the original Mad Men, both on AdScam, his irreverent blog, and on PSFK, which is publishing extracts from his book, my favourite of which are below:
The grand old man entered the room … waved us to be seated and proceeded to shout at us…
“The sole function of advertising is to sell products.”
There was a moment of silence, and then we all looked at each other and slowly nodded in agreement. Damn it, the old (guy) is right, and we’d always thought advertising was an excuse to be well paid for getting drunk, laid, and avoiding anything you would regard as work. I rushed over and grabbed his hand, shaking it vigorously, “Mr. Ogilvy” I blurted out “We met over twenty five years ago.” I then proceeded to tell him about our first encounter. Half way through it dawned on me that he didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. I shut up.
He shook my hand vigorously, looked me in the eye and said, “The sole function of advertising is to sell products.”
With that, his minders ushered him out of the conference room.
Jumping out from behind his desk he yelled at me, ‘Listen you English schmuck, the first thing you need to realize about working in the United States of America is you’ve got to make damn sure everyone thinks you’ve got a bigger dick than they have!’
Without wishing to appear ignorant in the ways of the New World, I hesitatingly asked him what he meant.
Lou then proceeded to explain to me a fundamental premise of the way business is conducted in America, one I would definitely be the first to acknowledge, has stood me in excellent stead throughout my long and checkered career. You’ll find examples of this in later chapters, but be aware that it is not something you learn in school, or by burying yourself in a mountain of debt to pay for a totally useless MBA. No, this is simply about developing an ability to instantly come back at a (…) client or (…) account exec with a razor sharp, detailed and seemingly unquestionable piece of logic, which in reality is a totally spurious cascade of bull.
The current state of the ad industry can best be summed up in the reputed words of a senior executive at the New York office of one of WPP’s agencies. When asked how he rated the quality of the work currently being produced by his agency, he replied, “F**k the work, it’s all about the money!” Damn right sir, you have to get your priorities in order.
Carefully laying down his monstrous fuming pipe, Joe offered me the following priceless advice: “Kid, when you’re away from your loved ones, you have to make them pay.”
To this day I have tried to live my life in the fashion Joe recommended.
No amazing quote from this one but it speaks to the drive and obsession a creative needs to have for his or her craft. Even if it drives everyone else a little batty.
My Mad Men rumour is one that I’ve heard a couple of times but I’ve never had confirmed, even from someone who cut her teeth in London in the 80s. Simply put is that in an attempt to get clients amazingly excited about the creative they were presenting, London agencies took to sprinkling a very light covering of cocaine over the morning pastries to give them a warm and fuzzy feeling.