Wednesday, May 13, 2015

talking mad men (and women)

exhibit includes sets: Draper kitchen in Ossining
If you'd told me when I was a junior copywriter that one night I’d be standing in a corridor shooting the breeze with Ken Roman, CEO of Ogilvy, and Herb Schlosser, president of NBC and Adweek critic, Barbara Lippert, not to mention two of the most legendary writers in the business, Helayne Spivack and Tom Messner—well, I’d have thought you’d have tossed back too many Harvey Wallbangers at lunch.

But, thanks to the Museum of the Moving Image, there I was, doing just that tonight. (I heart New York.) In conjunction with their excellent exhibit of Mad Men memorabilia, which includes scripts and brainstorming notes and actual sets from the show, the museum hosted a confab of execs from the Mad Men era reminiscing about the old days, some of which I (ahem) remembered.
and family pics from Matthew Weiner, portrait circa 1975

Barbara Lippert, whose Adweek column was my Monday morning go-to for years, moderated and kicked off by reminding us there was a time when people loved advertising instead of counting the seconds you could swipe it off screen. Ken Roman (author of best David Ogilvy bio) reminded us that Mad Men was a term coined by Matt Weiner—no one on Mad Ave actually used it. Helayne Spivack (claiming to be speaking for all women in advertising—she was only half kidding) talked of her Peggy Olson-ish trajectory of starting as a receptionist at Nadler & Larimer, working up copy between answering phones. Tom Messner (her Don Draper for ten years at Ally & Gargano) treated us to screening of landmark spot he did for MCI when “you only called long distance if somebody died.” And Herb Schlosser, who we have to thank for SNL and Laugh-In (remember?) and Columbo and The Tonight Show remembered Hubert Humphrey refusing to say “Sock it to me” on network television, though Nixon had done it the week before (it took six takes for him not to sound angry) thereby swaying popular vote to help get the Dick elected.

AMC’s Mad Men sails into the sunset this Sunday, but you can catch the outtasite exhibition of costumes, props, videos and research behind it until June 14. How will it end? Predictions embedded in Barbara's marvelous Mad Men Cliff Notes

Friday, May 1, 2015

where were you in 82?

And 83, 84 and the rest of the post-Mad Men decade when hard drinking executives graduated to hard drugs and ad agencies were being eaten by holding companies? If you were anywhere in the vicinity of Ogilvy, come commiserate with other survivors of the era at O&M's 80s Reunion in New York on Wednesay, May 14. Tickets still available. (Admission discounted if you've gotten sober!)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

ad space too expensive? publish your own mag

And speaking of clients getting into the publishing business, here's a new call for a serious Editor in Chief of upcoming online mag about Sleep, to be put out by (duh) a mattress company. Kudos to awake marketing mind behind this.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

author lands book deal with Y&R

Can't get a deal for that novel manuscript? Try ad agencies. Young & Rubicam commissioned Booker award-nominated novelist William Boyd to tell any story he wanted as long as it featured a Land Rover vehicle. Not surprisingly, the commission prompted Boyd to "realize how prominently Land Rover has featured in my life" and write THE VANISHING GAME, a novella published by Land Rover in print and e-version and advertised in display ads and paid posts on Vox, Quartz and NYTimes.com. The story can also be accessed on Tumblr where it's a multi-sensory experience including images, video, animation, sound, music and narration.

The novel-commissioned-by-client isn't unprecedented. In 2001, Bulgari hired novelist Fay Weldon to write any story she wanted, as long as it mentioned the name of the jeweler 12 times. Perhaps because she was a former copywriter (Ogilvy), Weldon exceeded that count, including 34 mentions. That product placement deal, a first in publishing, created quite a kerfuffle, as reported in in the New York Times and Salon. It's not known whether the commission helped Bulgari sell jewelry, but to Weldon's credit, the book still isn't out of print.

Thanks to Shareen Pathak of Digiday for letting us know

Monday, November 10, 2014

going to China? Don't leave home without this

I'm traveling in Taiwan for a couple of weeks and would be lost in translation without an app created by the good folks at Pleco. It lets me hold up the phone to Chinese characters on signs, on menus, on doors and suddenly what is inscrutable becomes clear. The app is multifunctioned and also features a handy live dictionary. Type in what you're trying to say and it appears in Chinese, so you can simply hold up your phone and be understood. I found this essential to renting a car which was accomplished only because the clerk and I could communicate by handing our iPhones to each other. Pleco downloadable from App store. Nope, this isn't a paid post. Just a hat tip from a grateful user in transit.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

45 years ago today

© Rudolph J Klein
July 20, 1969. Nixon is new to the White House. Ted Kennedy has just driven off a bridge. John and Yoko have shocked the world (at least my small, suburban part of it) by going to bed publicly and staying there for two weeks.

Here we are on a picnic with neighbors at Valley Forge Park. My mother's in the plaid Bermuda shorts. She'd ironed the heavy cotton floral tablecloth put down on the table. That's me on the left, trying to sneak away with an extra Ho-Ho. I'm wearing my favorite flower-power pin.

That night, I wear it to a CYO dance held in the gym of our parish hall, in a dress my mother made, trying to look like I know how to twist. At some point in the evening, the record abruptly stops spinning, lights go on and we are called to come to the school kitchenette where one of the chaperones has set up a portable television. It is a 5 inch screen, black and white of course, with an antenna you have to keep moving to keep picture. The picture is grainy and the sound is crackly and the most audible narration comes from a pocket transistor radio tuned to the same station. A man, at that moment, is walking on the moon. We live in a new world order in which what was impossible for our parents to imagine, happens to us as a matter of course: presidents get shot, women burn their bras, wars are waged in a jungle by children. Now, this: a man from earth stepping onto the moon. 

Grown-ups hunker close to the miniature screen, squinting their disbelieving eyes while we kids shift back and forth in our weejuns, waiting for the music to start up again.

Friday, March 7, 2014

writing blind

When I was little, a game I liked to play with myself was "Blind." I'd wander into our back yard, close my eyes and start walking. I was astounded at how much more alert my other senses would become. I could feel the maple tree shadowing my skin as I came within range of approaching it. I could hear the empty swing swaying on rusty chains. My heart would pound in my throat as I forced myself to move forward, walking with my eyes closed, resisting the urge to put my hands out in front of me because I thought the gesture would summon my mother who might glance out the kitchen window and wonder what was the matter with me.

Writing a novel is something like that, at least for me. You move slowly forward, unseeing, not able to make out what lies ahead, trusting you'll get someplace without killing yourself.