With the amazing success of the TV series, Mad Men about the crazy days of Madison Avenue, there has been a return to full figures in fashion and not just women’s couture. To cash in on the rising tide of advertising cliché Canongate books title re-issued a 1970 look by advertising guru Jerry Della Femina about those mad days when the original Mad Men have already died from consuming the products they sold. Their lungs went from the cigarettes they advertised and smoked by the carton. Their livers melted from all the scotch, gin and vodka they made famous like the three Martini lunches they enjoyed.
Amazingly, a lot of what Della Femina related then about rumour, censorship (in pre-political correct times) and how to promote a way of life is still very relevant today. However, the title From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor just would not be tolerated today except in an ironic look back like this book does.
The ersatz glitz is still there and perception often has more impact than facts or honest dealing. The Mystique of the deal, the pitch and the reputation are all there. As in the delusion that people buy magazines because of the advertising companies are no longer there as a result of failures, losses, defections and mergers. The good egos move on and start their own business perhaps, because enough wasn’t made of them by their own employers.
But it is that chapter about Fear, son of Fear and Fear Meets Abbot and Costello, that impressed me most as it mirrors the disappointment and panic so prevalent in this recession.
The weirdos, potheads and eccentrics are still around but Della Femina paints a picture of humour and fecklessness like there is no tomorrow.
The pressures in making pitched or presentations are as funny and as scary as they are today and the pressure no less traumatic.
The biggest criticism I have is the aspects of sex in advertising seems pretty limp for an era after the swinging sixties or maybe it is the way Mad Men deals with sex and passion on TV today.