As a child born smack in the middle of the Baby Boom, I have a certain fondness for men in spread collar shirts with hair dressed with Brylcreem or Wildroot, dark suits and narrow ties. I’ve been binging on Mad Men, the AMC original series. It’s a stylish look at Madison Avenue in the early ‘60s.
While I find it a walk down nostalgia lane, it reminds us how much our society has changed and how much advertising, though it may have found new mediums, is much the same. There’s the constant pressure to be original, creative and to keep clients happy, but the treatment of women and the behavior of men has certainly changed more than anything else.
Sexual harassment was an oxymoron then. Some men believed it was their right to say and do things that belittled women and sexuality. It’s hard for the brilliant career women of today to comprehend that fact. As a teen, I once quit a job rather than explain to the store owner that his general manager propositioned me.
Today, smoking is all but gone from the workplace. The fictional Sterling Cooper’s client is Lucky Strike and they do all that they can to keep that client from firing the agency when one of the partners suffers a coronary while playing “horsie” with a model for an aluminum siding campaign.
What I love are the clothes. They form the backbone of what is rooted in my 50s/60s childhood memories as the clothes worn by grown ups. It’s not hard to believe that Pete might be a good AE when you see him in his neat suit; that is until he threatens Don and reveals secrets that don’t matter to the partners but give them power over him.
Deep in the summer heat of the South Carolina Lowcountry, through a television program about my profession, I’ve found a path to the days of a 60s magical childhood as well as gratitude for the changes that have occurred in our world through the years.