There's more to this `golden age' history of Madison Avenue's legendary Doyle Dane Bernbach ad agency than meets the eye.
What we really have the pleasure of discovering in ``Nobody's Perfect" is (a) a rich, detailed insider's history of Madison Avenue's most influential advertising agency; (b) the ways in which Bill Bernbach and his accidental partners, Ned Doyle and Mac Dane, managed, and at times mismanaged, their agency's explosive --and fabled --years of growth, (c) the strengths and, yes, the limitations of Bill Bernbach's creative DNA, and (d) the boardroom --and bar-room -- decisions -- good, bad, and jaw-droppingly disastrous -- that doomed the agency's future and gave advertising its historic ``Big Bang" merger in 1986.
Ms. Willens' vivid narrative transcends the ``Madison Avenue" genre in that it spreads to Wall Street, Paris, London and, along the way, delivers to our 21st century executive suite honchos --those who pay attention -- something akin to an MBA education. Ignore the corporate miscues -- including ghastly chain-of-command blunders -- only if prepared to endanger one's entire company -- employees, profits, growth, shareholders-- The Works.
Throughout this immensely engaging narrative, Ms. Willens -- a veteran newspaper reporter who went on to direct DDB's public and corporate public relations during its ``golden age" -- also takes us through unprecedented, new frontier-creative work, including VW's ``Think Small," the Avis ``We Try Harder" campaign, Ohrbach's, Levy's Jewish rye bread, :the star-studded Polaroid campaign, Alka-Seltzer, American Airlines--awesome work that launched Madison Avenue's ``creative revolution" and changed advertising forever.
The fast-moving narrative is filled with lively, ``off-camera" anecdotes about DDB's visionaries, their egos and the squabbles that ultimately divided them. Five stars? Make it Six.