Season three of AMC’s Mad Men ended with a bang, break-ups (a marriage and an agency), and the promise of new beginnings. So, while Mad Men fans everywhere are having hiatus withdrawal and anticipating what Don will do next, Mad Men Confidential is a special series that looks at the show from a different perspective... from the inside out.
I’ll be bringing you commentary and discussion about the Mad Men episodes from fellow real Mad Men insiders. Frank talk about what life was like on (and off) Madison Avenue — colorful behind the scenes accounts about how ad campaigns were created, client meetings happened, office politics played out, the three-martini lunches and after hours hijinks that are the fabric of the Mad Men TV series. And, just for fun, some of today’s brash and bold Mad Men and Women will join in for interesting conversation, lively banter, and creative one-upmanship — a provocative “then and now” look at Madison Avenue that’s guaranteed to make sparks fly over the martinis and Merlot!
Who Are These Guys?
Mad Men is an Emmy Award-winning phenomenon that has also succeeded in popularizing the advertising business of the 1960s. Well, I am one of those ad guys lucky enough to have started my advertising career in the Mad Men era and fortunate to be still at it today. In the ‘60’s, Madison Avenue was synonymous with creativity, style, panache, and power and was seen as the trendsetting arbiter of American values. It was considered a glamorous business and an elite occupation populated with A-type egos who either decided to skip medical school, leave after the first year of law school, wanted no part of Hollywood or didn’t like the downtown vibe of Wall Street. So, we took our MBAs and English Literature degrees uptown to Madison Avenue to make our mark at one of New York’s legion of advertising agencies.
Mad Men Roots
My first day on the job was February 15, 1965 at Benton & Bowles (B&B), one of Madison Avenue’s top tier “white shoe” ad agencies. I started in the Media Department working under some legends of the business: Lee Rich, Bern Kanner, and Merrill Grant. Starting pay, $100 per week… $20 more per week than they were paying at McCann or Grey. After a few months I was promoted to be one of those account men you’ve come to know at Sterling Cooper. Rather than Peter Campbell or Ken Cosgrove, my mentors were Roy Bostock and Tom Griffin, smart, savvy guys who set me on the right path and went on to assume leadership roles in the Industry. The Don Drapers who put me through the creative wringer were Whit Hobbs, Joe Bacal, and Sid Lerner, who created some of the classic advertising of the period. The executive suite at B&B was populated with a trio of the classiest Mad Men in the business: Ted Steele, Jack Bowen and Vic Bloede, inspiring role models.