Sunday, May 3, 2009

reflections of a mad man, IRL

Bill Blackshaw joined BBDO in 1960 when the agency was working on Nixon's campaign. He claims Matt Weiner got a lot of things right: like the 3 martini lunch which "was invented by the ad business." And the elitism that existed in the industry then. Top brass "always had their last name first, like Thurston Charles McGee." He recalls presenting a media schedule to a Pete Campbell-like account exec who couldn't believe buys included Sunday afternoon radio spots on Long Island because "Everyone will be at the polo matches!"

One discrepancy, however. The bottle wasn't brought out in the office nearly as often as it is on the show. And usually didn't make its appearance until late in the day. (Presumably, just in time for commuters to knock back one for the road before pointing their cars--without seatbelts-- towards the Long Island Expressway.)

Footage lovingly shot by Bill's son Pete Blackshaw, EVP at Nielsen, a few months before his father passed away. Thanks for preserving this firsthand account of ad history, Pete. (And thanks, Randall Rothenberg, for posting the link.)


Pete Blackshaw said...

Thanks so much for the post. While not necessarily high in "views," the video has touched far more than I anticipated, and even one of the cast members of Mad Men reached out to me for an exchange about it. I grew up on ad jingles and early sneak peaks of brilliant copy reels (Dodge Boys, Chevrolet, Pennzoil, Great Western Savings), and nothing beat the Saturday afternoon sneaking around my father's downtown Hollywood office. (The art directors corner office was my favorite.) My dad told me to avoid the industry at all cost -- too much travel, too much unpredictability -- but I backed into it nevertheless via the client side at P&G starting in 1994. Interestingly, that kicked off an unlimited number of conversations and "bonding" about the industry, its history, and most importantly, where its going. My personal triumph -- and probably his proudest moment -- was when he visited Cincinnati to see me chair P&G's 1998 industry-wide "Future of Advertising Stakeholders Summit."

Since he passed away I've been thinking a great deal about how to better capture the stories and narratives of the shapers of today's advertising industry. Toward that end, I've been working with an insanely passionate cohort of folks in Cincinnati on a "Museum of Advertising" ( A big piece of what we're going to do in phase one is video tape as many ad veterans as possible for online viewing, discussion, and more.

Put another way, the video of my father could be just the start of something much bigger and meaningful.

- Pete

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Pete, thanks much for these insights, and for taking time to tape (and share) that marvelous conversation with your dad. Funny (but not surprising) that he advised you to avoid the business at all cost. Yet how proud he must have been to see you take a lead in the industry to which he'd devoted his life.

Thanks also for heads up about Museum of Advertising. Hadn't heard about this. Great concept. Let me know if curators ever need help with "exhibits" ;)

golublog said...

I wish the three martini lunch still existed.