How I Got to Madison Avenue. And beyond.

As with life, this blog is developing and changing. It began with a lot of stories that occurred on my career path from Albany to Madison Avenue and back.

There were some similarities to the AMC series "Mad Men," and then I went even farther back in time with a somewhat fictionalized version of growing up in Troy's Little Italy.

And now, a new development. As my free lance advertising and marketing career winds down, I'm becoming more interested in the theatre arts that my father and his 3 brothers helped instill in me as I grew up.

As a result, I've volunteered to help promote the Theatre Institute at Sage, and now, to continue a long-interrupted desire to be behind the proscenium, I've joined the newly formed Troy Civic Theatre, and was actually fortunate enough to appear in their first production.

So, I hope you'll enjoy the new stories that will develop from this latest turn.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Don Draper's Ad

I don't usually refer to current Mad Men episodes when writing these weekly memoirs of my life as a real Mad. Ave. man, but last week's penultimate season 4 program, wherein Don Draper wrote and ran an “inside” ad about his agency, reminded me of a similar ad I wrote in the eighties.

“1984” Lasted For a Decade.

It was the era of mega-mergers. Kenyon & Eckhardt, the agency that hired me in 1980, jumped through annual hoops – selling themselves to Lorimar, which itself merged with Telepictures, buying itself back, “merging” with Bozell Jacobs, spinning off USAdvertising to handle conflicting accounts, downsizing that and folding it into a business-to-business agency, Poppe Tyson, which itself was orphaned by another big agency merger. All the while, claiming the move would bring new and exciting advances.

Bozell had Pennzoil motor oil, American Airlines and some McDonald's business. K&E had Quaker State motor oil, Air France and Ponderosa. Bozell was the dominant “partner,” so those K&E clients were shunted to USAdvertising with 40 people who worked on those accounts. It didn't last. More about that another time.

It's Everywhere!

Merger-mania was rampant in the ad world. In fact,while I was in San Francisco for an extended weekend in 1985, interviewing for a job with a small agency that was a boutique inside a larger one out there, I was privy to the same kind of meaningless “synergy” speech, as two agencies gathered their staffs to announce the merger of Darcy-MacManus Masius with Benton & Bowles, becoming DMB&B. (It wasn't pronounced “dumb and b,” although that's probably what it should have been called by all the “redundant” people that it created and abandoned.) That shop was bought by Publicis, and DMB&B itself was deemed redundant in 2002, when they closed it.

When K&E & Bozell “merged,” effectively ending the international K&E brand, and I was eventually shuttled to Poppe Tyson, I went to the creative director with an idea to help establish our b2b and “considered purchase” agency's advantage.

By necessity, it denigrated the huge agencies that were being formed, and focused on advertisers with annual advertising budgets under $5 million. The O. Blechman-inspired illustration showed a tiny figure being squashed between the noses of two giants. Here's what I wrote:

Mega-mergers make Mini-clients.

If you spend less than $5 million a year on advertising and promotion, there's no reason your ad agency should look down their noses at you.

If you're not satisfied, you should switch to an agency that's big enough to give you everything you need, and small enough to want to.

That's us. Poppe Tyson. The hard-working, $70 million agency that's built its reputation on servicing large 1 to 5 million dollar accounts like yours.

We're specialists in Consumer Considered Purchase and Business-to-Business advertising.

To sell their non-impulse products and services, our clients need integrated communication programs – custom blends of advertising, sales promotion, collateral material, direct mail and public relations. And each receives precisely what's best, without a bias for any one medium.

Another important difference: all of Poppe Tyson's accounts are managed by experienced specialists. We never use an account as a training ground for juniors.'For more specifics, call Poppe Tyson. In New York, (NUMBER). In New Jersey, (NUMBER). In Boston, (NUMBER).

We'll help you get your advertising picture back into proportion.


Just your size.

That's the text, as it ran in the trade papers. But only once. As soon as the new management at Bozell saw it, they killed it. For the same reasons Don Draper's ad wouldn't have run if his partners had seen it beforehand.

But we both made our point. Tune in again to see the outcome.

Next: a rum ad the lawyers tried to kill before it ran, and how I saved it.

1 comment:

  1. Correction: The drawing in the ad was by an artist named Solomon; it was R.O. Blechman-inspired, and the Blechman website is
    Thanks, Jane, for pointing this out.