Inspired by the real men and women of Madison Avenue who created the art of the sale, The Real Mad Men of Advertising series is a tour into the world of advertising in America through the 1950s – 1980s.

The Real Mad Men of Advertising


A tour through “Advertising’s Golden Age”

In 2007 Matthew Weiner premiered Mad Men series. It was a bold and illuminating closeup to the ad industry. Now Smithsonian Channel continues to hook the viewers with The Real Mad Men of Advertising. On the 8th of January  this four-part miniseries gave the audiencece a glimpse into the world of not only of advertising, but of television itself. It tells stories of revolutionary brands through the 1950s – 1980s, featuring interviews with top ad creators, clips from Mad Men, and  revealing real men and women of Madison Avenue who created American consumer culture. It also includes interviews many of classic ads creators like Lee Clow ,who created the “1984” ad for Apple’s Macintosh, or like Jane Maas, who wrote Clairol’s famous “Does She Or Doesn’t She”.

The Real Mad Men of Advertising

The series follow up history of “Advertising’s Golden Age” since its incipience. It covers up 1950s  idea of consumption as a patriotic act after World War II, controversial 1980s Calvin Klein ad campaign with supermodel Brooke Shields, the game for Super Bowl advertisements and blurring the distinction between TV and commercials with MTV and infomercials emergence. The series also interpretes such breakthroughs as the creative revolution after a 1959 “Think Small” ad for Volkswagen, when  hard sell approach changed for a smarter one, or the advent of government regulations in the 1970s that banned cigarette ads from television and radio. “It would be interesting to follow up with a look at the transformations of online and mobile advertising,” – says Tim Evans, Co-Executive Producer for The Real Mad Men of Advertising. But it would be a great topic for another series.


Not everything is so slick

Another appealing feature of the series is its voice to creative people, competing for their place in the world of advertising. The Golden Age of the ad industry was full of sexism, racism, harassment, and fraud.For instance, in the episode focusing on the 1960s, Maas is treated like a second-class citizen because of her sex; designer Archie Boston worked in the creative department at an advertising agency for a year before introduction to a client because of his bosses`prejudices about African-American man.

The Real Mad Men of Advertising

The advertisments of that time also reflected those values. Luckily, they are changing. Tim Evans says: “The casual sexism of 1960s commercials changes by the 1970s, when women become a coveted target demographic, and changes even more in the 1980s when women are running ad agencies. The ads are a time capsule, and they are sometimes funny and sometimes horrifying, because they reflect our values during that period.“

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