When Mad Men ruled the world, or at least got smashed.

For those who are already pining for next season of Mad Men, why don't you dive head first into the golden years of UK advertising, the 60's, 70's and 80's. Back when men were alcoholics, women never climbed above the title of secretary, and all paychecks for creatives were insanely huge.

Sam Delaney, who works as a journalist for the Guardian, Independent, Sunday Times Style, Broadcast, is an editor-at-large for Maxim, and wrote the documentary The Greatest Ads You Never Saw has clearly had a lot of fun researching this book. It's full of anecdotes - probably myths - that we may or may not have heard before.

You'll find the usual suspects: "we make the ads, they make the sherry.", and "Don't put anything down on the page unless you're sure people will shit themselves when they see it."
Ten brownie points to the first who knows who said what. The only thing is that this book might depress you for several reasons.

It all seemed so much better back then. Peter Mayle says that he was 26 years old, making twice what the prime minister made and buying himself a house in Sloane Square. Creatives crawl into the office at eleven and do take those three hour Martini lunches, after which they don't return to the office at all.

Ads mattered and people cared about creativity. There are no photos included, so we'll never know what the mythological offices looked like or how these ad giants dressed when they were the young hotshots, and ad porn is sadly missing. To add insult to injury, my copy just can't decide how to spell Hegarty. Heagarty? Hegarthy ? Irritating! Even proofreaders were better back then.

Still, for those who want reminding as to why they got into advertising, this is it. Don't despair thinking that this sort of thing never happens anymore, it probably does. Today we have our mythological ad men and women, they're just not all hanging around the same square in Soho anymore - instead, there are agencies in Amsterdam, Miami and Stockholm that are pushing the envelope. You might think there are no Martini lunches today as you work yourself to the bone, but people still work hard and play hard. Hell, I know a creative team that without fail smoke pot every morning at ten o'clock, a creative director who buys art on the agency dime and hangs it in his house and a flash senior AD who's not paid for a single item of brand name clothing in the past ten years. I rate this above average for the topic, but it would have been better with images and a proofreader.

Image of Get Smashed!: The Staggering Story of the Men Who Made the Adverts that Changed Our Lives
Author: Sam Delaney
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (2007)
Binding: Paperback, 300 pages
AnonymousCoward's picture
Andreas-Udd's picture

Great read.

emtjason's picture

Being in the business this was an awesome read probably the best book that i've got in a long time on the the ad agency business. I'm surprised that some of these guys didn't end up in some drug rehab for their habits but I guess they kept things under control and if it gave them any more creativity well my hats off to you gentlemen.

Dabitch's picture

It's a bit like Mad Men in book form actually. (That should sell it to jonesing mad men fans looking for their fix hahahaha)