ANDREW CRACKNELL’S NEW BOOK. THE REAL MAD MEN.


Damn that TV show Mad Men.

Suddenly there was all this renewed interest in the advertising industry.

But unfortunately the show focused on the least appealing part of American advertising: the WASP NY agencies of the early 60s.

Before the New York “ethnics” got involved and made advertising interesting.

Finally there’s a book that tries to set the record straight.

It’s called THE REAL MAD MEN. And it was written by Andrew Cracknell.

Who is Andrew Cracknell? Andrew Cracknell is a veteran of the UK ad scene. A seasoned advertising pro who has seen it all and done it all and lived to tell the tale.

These days Andrew basically sails around the world on a yacht called….you’re going to like this…SEVERANCE.

In other words, Andrew Cracknell won. You should listen to Andrew, perhaps.

In his book he retells the stories of the renegades of creative advertising revolution of the 1960s.

I just got it and am reading it in my own unique way.

I can highly recommend it though!

I have read pretty much all the books on this era and I know all the stories, true and apocryphal.

I worked for one of these legends in my first job. I intersected with the twilight this world.

This is kind of like that definitive Beatles book that was put out a few years back.

It’s indispensable if only for its thoroughness. You already knew all the major stories, but it was nice to have all the details filled in.

“I didn’t know that Ringo lived at 45 Misery Drive. I thought it was 54 Misery Court, etc”.

Similarly, i got a nerdy buzz out of finding out that one of the Ds in DDB (Ned Doyle) was quite the lothario.

You won’t find that out on the DDB website.

Having worked in the biz for decades, Mr. Cracknell is rightly leery of some of the hoary old tales about the legends of the 1960s. He has a keen nose for bullshit.

The Real Mad Men is a great history of what was the most exciting period in the advertising game.

If you’re an ad geek like me you will lap it up.

16 responses to “ANDREW CRACKNELL’S NEW BOOK. THE REAL MAD MEN.

  1. *cough, cough*

    link doesn’t work.

    and – how does your “unique way of reading” look like?

  2. link fixed riki. thanks. my unique way of reading involves me picking up a book randomly and reading where i want with little regard to the flow of the book. i like to think that this forces me to make sense of the book myself. but in truth it’s because i’m a cottonheaded ninnymuggins!

  3. When will you have your book report finished?

  4. EXCELLENT book. Best history of the business since Mayer’s book more than 60 years ago.

  5. Thought was going to be another ‘history’ book, but I was wrong. I started reading from the middle because the earlier bits, I think I already know, from ‘When Advertising Tried Harder’, ‘DDB Book’ and others of the ilk. It’s great that advertising agencies were once so lively, before the bean counters came and ruined it all. A question I often ask those who think the world of bean counters. ‘Would DDB – or any of the other great agencies – have reached their heights if they had been run by holding companies’.

    • Short answer robin, they would never have thrived in holding company model. DDB, TBWA, Chiat Day and BBDO were the result of entrepreneurial visions. Now they are led by mere employees. Of course it’s never going to be as good.

  6. Thank you so much for these comments; as a Brit who started in advertising in the UK in the late 60s and thus less qulaified to cover this than many of you I approached it with some trepidation. It’s gratifying to know that it seems to work for some of you.

    Robin Ow, I hope you did go back and read the earlier chapters. The DDB book and Larry Dobrow’s “When advertising tried harder” (Larry sadly died earlier this year – he was a lovely bloke and a terrific help to me) didn’t give the whole sometimes surprising picture of the VW campaign. There was Helmut Krone’s enormous doubts about the whole route and Julian Koenig’s own happy admission that the client helped him with the “Think Small” headline and a colleague with “Lemon”. I was also fascinated by the hints I got of a change of heart, late in life, by Rosser Reeves about all he stood for. And the jaw dropping statistic that in the 1950s an ad execs life expectancy was nearly 20% shorter than other comparable businessmen. All those oysters…

    Just so’s you know, the book will be published by Perseus in the US next February/March. It’s hardback with a different cover illustration and several wonderfully evocative b&w contemporary agency life pictures from the era on the inside covers.

    Thanks again,

    Andrew Cracknell

  7. When will it be available on kindle ?

    • The Young Master and Commander

      Don’t know – good question. I think talk about talks are being held right now. I’ll keep you posted. Andrew

  8. It was a golden era for creativity but was always going to be found out by the accountants when competition from other media kicked in, magazines, the internet etc etc. as in all walks, A good read! Was that you, a lovely blonde and a boat called Severance that I was alongside in Symi last June? I’m sure it was, She needs anti-fouling (Severance not the blonde)!

  9. It was a golden era for creativity but was always going to be found out by the accountants when competition from other media kicked in, magazines, the internet etc etc. as in all walks, A good read! Was that you, a lovely blonde and a boat called Severance that I was alongside in Symi last June? I’m sure it was, She needs anti-fouling (Severance not the blonde)!

  10. @OW
    BEAN counting much more fun when you counted 15% of the beans and 17.65% of the other beans. Also more fun toting up the beans when you placed all the media in addition to creating, producing the print and broadcast.
    On other hand, it was also much more work intensive and often an agency had 8, 9 people per million in billing.
    DDB, while not owned then by a holding company, saw a public offering as a way to cash in following George Lois’s taking his young agency public. DDB watched their stock go from 25 to 75 following the public’s buying of a cut of the beans before reality set in. The comical side of their world of finance was buying a sailboat company that sold little plastic boats for about $200 and producing Orlando Furioso in Bryant Park. Marvin Honig, the creative director of DDB suggested at the time that the cast be sent back to Italy on the sailboats.

  11. RE: “But unfortunately the show focused on the least appealing part of American advertising: the WASP NY agencies of the early 60s.
    Before the New York ‘ethnics’ got involved and made advertising interesting.”

    To that I say: … huh, wtf are you babbling on about?

    • i meant what i said eric. Mad Men focuses on the old school white bread agencies of the early 1960s. plenty of drinking and smoking and skullduggery but the ads they produced were terrible.

      The arrival of the non-WASP Bernbach/Lois/Carl Ally et al signalled the birth of the creative revolution.

      Don Draper is a great character but a lousy ad creative.

  12. Olivia Altschuler

    My name is Olivia Trager Altschuler. I was a copywriter at DDB, Y&R, Ogilvy and Tinker. I also was a partner in Trager-Rosen, the first two-women ad agency ever. I knew and worked with or for all your cast of characters. I thought you nailed them and those times with extraordinary precision. I also loved that you put Marion Harper in the same genius catagory as Bill Bernbach, while admitting that his vision was partially responsible for the demise of the business as we knew it then.

    After my copywriting career, I became a head hunter. I retired after 9/11 and have not kept up with what is going on now that we are into the virtual era. I am curious about your imput on that subject.

    I am giving your book to my husband, who is a lawyer and never understood what I did or really believed me when I told him what went on.

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