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The Real Mad Men: The Remarkable True Story of Madison Avenue's Golden Age

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Advertising is a business rooted in art, an art rooted in business, and it reached its peak in a specific place at a specific time: New York City at the end of the 1950s and into the '60s. Like AMC's award-winning drama "Mad Men," this book looks at the industry that shaped a culture. The" Real Mad Men" is a visual history of key major ad campaigns during the 1950s and 196 Advertising is a business rooted in art, an art rooted in business, and it reached its peak in a specific place at a specific time: New York City at the end of the 1950s and into the '60s. Like AMC's award-winning drama "Mad Men," this book looks at the industry that shaped a culture. The" Real Mad Men" is a visual history of key major ad campaigns during the 1950s and 1960s and the people responsible for them. Beginning with the iconic VW campaign that kicked off the "Creative Revolution" it covers campaigns such as Avis, Alka Seltzer, Benson & Hedges 100s, Volvo, Chivas Regal, and Braniff Airways. "Real Mad Men" reveals the true players of Madison Avenue in the era of the "Mad Men" and provides a behind-the-scenes look at key agencies, including 150 full-color illustrations of the main ad campaigns as well as numerous inset campaigns


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Advertising is a business rooted in art, an art rooted in business, and it reached its peak in a specific place at a specific time: New York City at the end of the 1950s and into the '60s. Like AMC's award-winning drama "Mad Men," this book looks at the industry that shaped a culture. The" Real Mad Men" is a visual history of key major ad campaigns during the 1950s and 196 Advertising is a business rooted in art, an art rooted in business, and it reached its peak in a specific place at a specific time: New York City at the end of the 1950s and into the '60s. Like AMC's award-winning drama "Mad Men," this book looks at the industry that shaped a culture. The" Real Mad Men" is a visual history of key major ad campaigns during the 1950s and 1960s and the people responsible for them. Beginning with the iconic VW campaign that kicked off the "Creative Revolution" it covers campaigns such as Avis, Alka Seltzer, Benson & Hedges 100s, Volvo, Chivas Regal, and Braniff Airways. "Real Mad Men" reveals the true players of Madison Avenue in the era of the "Mad Men" and provides a behind-the-scenes look at key agencies, including 150 full-color illustrations of the main ad campaigns as well as numerous inset campaigns

30 review for The Real Mad Men: The Remarkable True Story of Madison Avenue's Golden Age

  1. 4 out of 5

    L

    This non-fiction book i recieved through a Goodreads 'first-read' giveaway and which was such a privalige, as this book was utterly brilliant as to its genre and subject matter. It discusses the revolution that ocured during the 1950's and 1960's when business changed drematically, paving the future for pioneering industry. Advertising and marketing is researched into such depth and detail, as to bring this particular moment in time back to life most vividly. The stories of the writers, artists, This non-fiction book i recieved through a Goodreads 'first-read' giveaway and which was such a privalige, as this book was utterly brilliant as to its genre and subject matter. It discusses the revolution that ocured during the 1950's and 1960's when business changed drematically, paving the future for pioneering industry. Advertising and marketing is researched into such depth and detail, as to bring this particular moment in time back to life most vividly. The stories of the writers, artists, creators and designers from this golden scene of historical change is told most clearly, and how ambitiously creative new aproaches were given light thus forming the foundations of modern advertising as we know it. A market that was already booming was met with new ideas that had such a profound effect as to change the course of the future forever, by producing waves and ultimately changing history. New radical and influential concepts were laid on the table by men who were cleaver, imaginative, creative and smart. Newspapers, magazines and televisions were the advertising backbone and where messages could be directed to reach thousands of consumers, thus broadening target markets out of proportion. Reading this book was like a breath of fresh air coming in through a window that opens to a different view, and one that was a most welcome diversion from all fictional books that i have read so much of recently. I was truly captivated and facinated throughout, and i feel utterly privaliged to have been able to read this. The story told was most illuminating of this poinant moment within history, and something that should not be forgotten within industry's breakthrough events as i doubt that it will ever be repeated again. These men gave life and energy to a business that lacked the vision and inspiration that they so posessed, and everyone within this modern age has to be thankful for all they did to change and transform our world. Despite being non-fiction and an honest and real acount of that time, i felt able to enjoy this book like it was telling me a story, there story and from that aspect i really felt a part of it. Some readers can find certain non-fiction too deep, complex or lacking that energy that makes a book so readable, but this did not and i felt completely able to read right through to the very end (without it lacking in momentum or excitement). For those who are businessmen or women and who understand the tough nature of industry, then you will be able to fully relate to this book and even perhaps empathise with some of these great men such as Bill Bernbach who foundered DDB. I was not only facinated by this book but i also found it most inspiring, especially when one contemplates how just simple ideas can have such a profound effect and impact all that surrounds us. I was also tought how to apreciate certain things that one might take for graunted, and how if one is determined enough, strong minded and most importantly believes in themself and their ideas then you can change the future. I cannot thank Quercus publishers enough for their kindness and generosity, as i am truly overwhelmed how this book has created such an effect upon myself and my way of thinking for the better. If you have not read this yet then i strongly urge that you do, as you may find yourself very much suprised.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Adriana

    A quick and easy to understand history of the people and decades that changed advertising forever and inspired (in part) the hit AMC tv show. It's pretty obvious that the author is a giant fanboy of some of the people he writes about - he actually makes no attempt to hide this - so I'm taking it as a bit biased, but it does give a fantastic overview of who's who and what's what. My one problem with it is that there are almost no images of the campaigns mentioned and the ones that are there are sm A quick and easy to understand history of the people and decades that changed advertising forever and inspired (in part) the hit AMC tv show. It's pretty obvious that the author is a giant fanboy of some of the people he writes about - he actually makes no attempt to hide this - so I'm taking it as a bit biased, but it does give a fantastic overview of who's who and what's what. My one problem with it is that there are almost no images of the campaigns mentioned and the ones that are there are small enough that you can't really read the copy. I would have loved a chance to see examples of every campaign mentioned and be able to read the body copy on them. I'd recommend it as a primer or launching off point for a history of advertising in the 20th century.

  3. 4 out of 5

    William Clay

    The author clearly doesn't like the TV show Mad Men and thinks that's it's an unrealistic portrayal of 1960s advertising out of Madison Avenue... But the book makes clear reference to the tv show, every chapter opens with a quote from the show and most chapters mention at least one character reference and how unrealistic they are. One of the last lines mentions Don Draper. I think the author has some issues with a TV show that he has piggy backed on to sell his book. It's an interesting summary r The author clearly doesn't like the TV show Mad Men and thinks that's it's an unrealistic portrayal of 1960s advertising out of Madison Avenue... But the book makes clear reference to the tv show, every chapter opens with a quote from the show and most chapters mention at least one character reference and how unrealistic they are. One of the last lines mentions Don Draper. I think the author has some issues with a TV show that he has piggy backed on to sell his book. It's an interesting summary read of what was undoubtedly a fascinating time. But this book seems to just bring together elements of what other people have mentioned in other books or articles. I suppose that's a good thing. I had no knowledge of the "real Mad Men" and what sorts of characters they were. I do now. But i also now know the names of other books to go and read that will deal with particular people and companies in more detail. It's a very good summary book. I'd recommend it for anyone who likes the tv show or is interested in advertising. Think small.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sonya

    3.5 stars because I find advertising much more interesting since watching Mad Men, and this book does a good job of going behind the scenes of NYC's biggest and most progressive agencies during a revolutionary time period in the industry. Ads from the 60s look so much more interesting than ads of today, and there are a lot of them in there (and the print is often very small, but not too small to read most of the copy, which was also interesting). In case you're wondering, ad men usually didn't a 3.5 stars because I find advertising much more interesting since watching Mad Men, and this book does a good job of going behind the scenes of NYC's biggest and most progressive agencies during a revolutionary time period in the industry. Ads from the 60s look so much more interesting than ads of today, and there are a lot of them in there (and the print is often very small, but not too small to read most of the copy, which was also interesting). In case you're wondering, ad men usually didn't actually drink at their desk in the office all day. They drank after work. :)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cynda

    I read this book to better understand the world I was born into in the 1960s. Informative and delightful.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kate McGhee

    An uncomfortable read. This book gives an overview of the Metro US advertising scene in the 1950s and 60s. As a historical artefact, it certainly has value in giving an account of the new breed of creative-led agencies, the personalities behind them and campaigns they produced. I found the shoe-horned Mad Men references irritating (and horrendously dated) and the seemingly endless queue of personality-based anecdotes rather wearing and tedious. Perhaps, this was unique to the timing of my readin An uncomfortable read. This book gives an overview of the Metro US advertising scene in the 1950s and 60s. As a historical artefact, it certainly has value in giving an account of the new breed of creative-led agencies, the personalities behind them and campaigns they produced. I found the shoe-horned Mad Men references irritating (and horrendously dated) and the seemingly endless queue of personality-based anecdotes rather wearing and tedious. Perhaps, this was unique to the timing of my reading, but what troubled me most though was the morally tone-deaf way in which the book described the institutional misogyny, sexism and discrimination rife in the industry. It is depressing to see how the majority of the most creative, progressive agencies reflected their own narrow interests and kow-towed to the prejudices of their even more blinkered clients. I was half-way through the book when the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. Somehow tall-tales of boozed-up sex parties and frat house antics seemed all the more distasteful. While none of this was a startling revelation to me and I’m fully aware of the difficulties of applying the standards of 2018 to 1963, the rose-tinted position taken by the author and to a certain degree, his research subjects made me uncomfortable enough to stop reading for a few months. We live in different times, yet the prejudice and toxic cult of personality is celebrated and still dominates across many parts of the creative industries. For things to change, we need cultural historians of this period to shine a light on and challenge those behaviours, rather than mythologise them, with cheap TV cash-in endorsements.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Interesting and detailed account of the NY advertising industry in the sixties. It was an informative read, and I finished the book, but it just didn't feel 'packed'. I wanted more about the business models of the day, more humour, more outrageousness, more derring-do. Something just to make it more captivating. It felt like it was losing its way towards the end, and I had to work to finish it. It also just stops dead without any commentary on all that has happened since publication. 3 stars wou Interesting and detailed account of the NY advertising industry in the sixties. It was an informative read, and I finished the book, but it just didn't feel 'packed'. I wanted more about the business models of the day, more humour, more outrageousness, more derring-do. Something just to make it more captivating. It felt like it was losing its way towards the end, and I had to work to finish it. It also just stops dead without any commentary on all that has happened since publication. 3 stars would be too harsh, but the book definitely could have had more going on in it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark K.Astley

    A general sweep on the history of 20 century New York advertising agencies. A tenuous link to the Mad Men TV series is good marketing. Apparently the author states that it took 18 months to write this book - why?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Raeuberstochter

    Wenn Sie in der Werbebranche arbeiten, kann ich Ihnen dieses Buch nur empfehlen. Viele Bücher konzentrieren sich auf Werbung aus der Perspektive der TV Show Mad Men (Handlung spielt in den 60er-Jahren), aber dieses Buch behandelt, was zu dieser Zeit wirklich in der Werbebranche Gang und Gebe war. In den 60ern Jahren fand die sogenannte „Creative Revolution“ statt - in der Werbung fanden drastische Veränderungen statt. Dieses Buch zeigt Ihnen anhand von vielen Werbebeispielen (Fotos in schwarz-wei Wenn Sie in der Werbebranche arbeiten, kann ich Ihnen dieses Buch nur empfehlen. Viele Bücher konzentrieren sich auf Werbung aus der Perspektive der TV Show Mad Men (Handlung spielt in den 60er-Jahren), aber dieses Buch behandelt, was zu dieser Zeit wirklich in der Werbebranche Gang und Gebe war. In den 60ern Jahren fand die sogenannte „Creative Revolution“ statt - in der Werbung fanden drastische Veränderungen statt. Dieses Buch zeigt Ihnen anhand von vielen Werbebeispielen (Fotos in schwarz-weiß, aber auch in Farbe) die Mechanismen der Werbung in den 60ern Jahren (von den ersten Kampagnen für den VW Käfer bis hin zu Polaroid und den ersten Fernsehwerbungen). Wenn Sie an Werbung interessiert sind, ist das ein ausgezeichnetes Buch. Wenn Sie ein Fan der Fernsehsendungen Mad Men sind, eher nicht, da dieses sich Buch in keinster Weise an die Fernsehsendung anlehnt, sondern sich mit den wahren Begebenheiten und Vorfällen in der Werbeindustrie zu dieser Zeit beschäftigt, auf denen MAD MEN lose basiert.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Melinda Elizabeth

    lets not beat around the bush - referencing "mad men" is a clever advertising ploy to sell a book that has as much in common with mad men as I do with Betty Draper. It's a little dry at points, yabbing about a whole heap of people I don't know, nor does it really explain them all that well, but then it goes into some analysis of some of the most iconic ads in the era - VW, Polaroid etc and it keeps you interested.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mark McKenny

    I like books that lead you on to other books, and this is one of those. As well as being an entertaining read, both for advertising reasons, and to read something relating to Mad Men (a series I happen to like) it has neat pictures of the great ads it talks about installed throughout. Andrew certainly knows his stuff and he makes reading about Ogilvy and the gang highly interesting. Well worth a read, if you're into this kind of thing.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Quercus Books

    'I lived through half of what Andrew Cracknell writes about - and there's so much action on each page, my head was spinning. The Real Mad Men nails those days in real time - but take a valium before you read it. It's an eye-popping, roller-coaster ride, and the true story of the original Mad Men. Reading any chapter in Cracknell's book beats the hell out of watching a dozen segments of Mad Men' George Lois.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    As someone who works in ad industry and a true fan of Mad Men series, I often imagine if I live in the mid 50s and work at the same industry. By reading this book, I could feel the sophisticated life, the thinking behind every great campaigns, the important feeling of being an ad dude in the era (well, today's ad industry isn't as glorious as it used to be, is it?). There is a certain romance when you read it if you have the passion for ad.

  14. 5 out of 5

    False

    Released following the success of the television show "Mad Men" this book covers the revolutionary history of New York/West Coast advertising in the 1950's and '60's. I had already read other books about this time frame and field. This was enjoyable, and clever them to tie their ad campaign for the book using the television show.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    A great, expansive overview of the advertising agencies of the 50's and 60's. The story moves a quick pace, jumping from agency to agency, explaining why they were revolutionary in one chapter or less. A must-read for anyone studying advertising or young in their careers (like myself) who want to understand what our employers used to advocate, tolerate, dismiss and hate decades ago.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

    This book was read in order to fulfill my need for anything Mad Men related. I was disappointed that only a short section at the end was devoted to women in advertising, but I guess that's why it wasn't called Mad Women.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Larry

    An obvious attempt to capitalize on the series by an author highly critical of the acclaimed TV show, but also a very comprehensive history of the advertising industry’s seminal years. A little light in text, but many fantastic vintage photos.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Severine

    Really fun.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Good insight on 1950s-70s in advertising from Bernbach to Harper. Not really about Mad Men, but a little insight to what things were really like.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    This book disappointed me, and I dropped it midway. I'll probably pick it up again to finish while commuting (as I hate leaving things uncompleted).

  21. 4 out of 5

    Vassilena

    It's really interesting to see a new perspective of the ad world in that era. As a fan of Mad Men, I was happy to learn more and see how reality differed from fiction.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Deimante

    A bit dry at places but the ending was very well written

  23. 5 out of 5

    Justin Carbonella

    A bit slow in parts, but brought it all together at the end

  24. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Loved the sensational ads and vignettes about key figures in NYC's advertising history. But the overall narrative was primarily, 'and then and then and then,'... zzzzz.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alexander

    Interesting book on the changes the advertising world went through as it moved from staid WASPiness to aggressive creativity in the 1950s and 60s.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  27. 5 out of 5

    David Dunn

  28. 4 out of 5

    Juan Leite

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  30. 4 out of 5

    Judy Ward

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