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The Real Mad Men: The Remarkable True Story of Madison Avenue's Golden Age [Paperback]

Andrew Cracknell
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Aug 2011

In New York City in the late 1950s and the 1960s - the era and location of TV's Mad Men - advertising went through a revolution. In a booming market, a punchy and proud new workforce of younger, multi-ethnic writers and art directors gorged themselves on a vibrant and artistic social scene. In many ways they were similar to Don Draper, Roger Sterling and Peggy Olsen: confident, driven and ambitious, they lived the three-martini life and worked the machine to their advantage. Also clever, creative and streetwise, they outclassed and outthought the old advertising establishment, implementing a new way of thinking and behaving which spread across the newspapers, magazines and TV screens of America and beyond. The story of modern advertising starts here, with these real Mad Men - and women - of Madison Avenue who created the most radical and influential advertising ever, transforming the methods, practice and execution of the business. Their legacy still resounds in the industry today. How did this golden age of advertising happen? It is a remarkable, inspiring story of creativity, ingenuity and larger than life personalities who made it up as they went along.

Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (4 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857384279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857384270
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 42,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'Andrew Cracknell tells it like it was - the inside story of the men and women who kept Don Draper awake at night. Witty and invigorating' David Abbott.

'As someone who was in the ad business during the ''Mad Men'' years, Andrew Cracknell has really nailed it. He tells the inside story of the advertising business as only someone who's been right in the middle of it can. I enjoyed reading it, and I'm really looking forward to the day they make a movie out of it because there's a great movie here. I can only hope that George Clooney is around to play my part' Jerry Della Femina.

'I lived through half of what Andrew Cracknell writes about - and there's so much action on each page, my head was spinning. The Real Mad Men nails those days in real time - but take a valium before you read it. It's an eye-popping, roller-coaster ride, and the true story of the original Mad Men. Reading any chapter in Cracknell's book beats the hell out of watching a dozen segments of Mad Men' George Lois.

'Andrew Cracknell has accurately captured what many people called the Golden Age of Advertising - with its postwar milieu, strong personalities and creative philosophies - and pinned it to the wall like an exotic butterfly in a collection. Like the period, the book is fun' Ken Roman.

'...keeps some of that glamour (of Mad Men) as much as it argues for what the counterculture revolution did for advertising ... handsomely produced' Glasgow Herald.

'This handsome volume offers a celebratory oral history of the Manhattan advertising world in the 1950s and 1960s ... (Andrew Cracknell) writes with commendable zip ... Enjoyable' Guardian.

'an entertaining chronicle of the men, women and ideas that first persuaded Americans to part with their money' Good Book Guide.

'Cracknell's book is a sensuous beast. It exudes gloss ... much like a good advertisement, the book successfully informs, entertains and pleases the eye' TLS.

From the Inside Flap

Of all the places where people make money, advertising is one of the most exotic. People are paid to be crazy and applauded for being heretic. It's where commerce meets showbiz and where hard money meets artistic whimsy. And in New York City in the late 1950s and through the 1960s advertising reached its peak. In a booming market, a punchy and proud new workforce of younger, multi-ethnic writers and art directors gorged themselves on a vibrant artistic and social scene. Then in 1959, a softly spoken ad man by the name of Bill Bernbach, with his agency Doyle Dane Bernbach, launched the now iconic VW campaign, kicking off a dizzying decade of outstanding work, produced by people who knew they were making both waves and history. Confident, driven and ambitious, they lived the three-Martini life and worked the machine to their advantage. But they were also clever, creative and streetwise, outclassing and outthinking the old advertising establishment and starting a new approach, which spread across the newspapers, magazines and TV screens of America and beyond. The story of modern advertising starts here; with these real mad men - and women - of Madison Avenue, who created the most radical and influential advertising ever. This book is about those people, that work and that era.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent view of how Madison Avenue changed 17 Feb 2012
Andrew Cracknell's account of the Real Mad Men is fascinating, never dull and gives a real insight into the changes that took place in this period, socially, artistically which had their echoes in the advertising revolution that he describes so well. There are many larger than life characters but the book gives just enough of them to give the reader a real flavour. I can't wait for a sequel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, fun and Informative 13 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book does what it says on the cover. It is about real people in a vibrantly real world re-inventing the advertising of late 50s & 60s America.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Andrew Cracknell's The Real Mad Men despite not being a fan of the fantasy adland of the TV series. This book is much more fun than that! It is chock full o' nuts, in the nicest possible way. It has characters nobody would dare dream up for fiction and the glory of it is that Cracknell uses their own words, more often than not, to describe some of the more extreme examples of their behaviour. Amusing anecdotes, biting quotes and illuminating memories abound, but the strength of the book is that they are all amplified by intelligent & informed reflection by an author who obviously really knows his stuff. What is apparent throughout is the exhilerating atmosphere prevalent on Madison Avenue in the sixties and the resultant iconoclastic & brilliant work it produced. It reveals the people & the thinking behind classic ads like those for VW, & Alka Selzer, Avis & El Al. Like this book, they were all sharp, innovative, witty and diverting but, on top of being entertaining, they also gave you all the necessary information. The book is a well-researched social document too, portraying the diverse backgrounds of this new wave admen and the cultural & social backdrop which allowed them to emerge. Densely packed with case histories & mini biographies though it is, The Real Madmen is easy & fun to read, I'd highly recommend it to anyone interested in the period- and any aspiring marketing men or women really should read it from cover to cover . The only down-side is, it makes one realise just how meretricious most of our advertising is today & what a dull, grey, lot the ad-folk have become!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having been force fed a diet of "The Apprentice" and "Mad Men" while my daughter completed a marking module for her college course, i decided to dive in and give this book a try.

The first thing to note is, If this book is as accurate at depicting the advertising game of the early sixties as the authors claim, Don Draper and his firm Stirling Cooper, have nothing on some of these guys. This book graphically demonstrates the lenghts to which these guys would go to to get the message out there to the public. it was scary in parts, but also dynamic in others.

Secondly; May i suggest, that contestants on "The Apprentice" should definitely read a few chapters of this book before they apply.

Although times have changed and in the modern world you would hope that certain things should "hopefully" have moved on, I can picture a great deal of what this book describes still happening behind the scenes within today's world of marketing and advertising. If anything probably in an even more cut throat and ruthless manner than depicted in this book.

The only problem that I encountered with this book was that it could be slightly long winded and full of its own self importance in certain places, but overall i found it to be an interesting and a sometimes scarely informative book on the subject. It will definitely make me look slightly more carefully at advertising in future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Sue
You don't have to be in advertising to enjoy this book - I'm not and I did! I found it a very readable story - a fast-moving, brilliantly written, authoritative account of the revolution in advertising. It includes marvellous illustrations and is full of amusing and often hilarious anecdotes about the larger than life men and women involved. A fascinating story, which makes you look at adverts in a whole new light after reading it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
See the pioneering admen and women of Madison Avenue as they really were. An adman himself, Cracknell gets the tone just right - it's a great read and gives some brilliant insights into how the ad industry began, grew and developed. And it's not that Madmen, the TV series, has go it wrong - it gets a lot right - but the real story is much, much more interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb! 25 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I couldn't put this down. I thought it might be a lazy book written off the back of Mad Men's popularity but it's anything but. Some fabulous stories brought to life really well.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A world away from Sterling Cooper 3 Oct 2011
To anyone working in advertising today, or at any time during the past fifty years, the clarity, honesty and intelligence of DDB's work of the 60's for the likes of VW, Avis, Levi's bakery and many others, have become benchmarks of achievement in creative writing and beacons of possibility for what advertising can achieve for its clients, its audience and its practitioners. In "The Real Mad Men", Andrew Cracknell sets out to illuminate the achievements of Bill Bernbach , his Agency and their successors, by placing them in the context of what had gone before and applauding the sheer chutzpah involved in taking on the practices and thinking behind the output of the established Agencies. Whilst acknowledging the differing influences of David Ogilvy, Rosser Reeves and Marion Harper on the contextual landscape of advertising in the Sixties, Andrew concentrates on the cultural dynamics of the time and the huge release of energy and creativity that came with the arrival on the scene of mainly non WASP, non Ivy League participants in the creative departments of New York. His story concentrates on the legacy of Bill Bernbach, not only through DDB, but through the developments of its imitators and new competitors - the likes of Papert Koenig Lois, Carl Ally Inc, Jerry Della Femina et al. It is rich in colour, at times very funny and contains a wealth of anecdotes from those around at the time. A world away from Sterling Cooper. As he comments towards the end of the book" None of those he talked to (from that era) would ever have wanted to work for Draper and none of his department would have got a job at any of their firms. Too phony"
This book is for those who wish to know how it really was. It is also a terrific read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that is more or less a brilliant advertisement for advertising
A book that is more or less a brilliant advertisement for advertising. It is exciting and gives some good insights into the history of the industry without ever being dry. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Tessa
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good
I have never watched MM, but saw this book on special. It is a very interesting story of the rise of advertising in the US in the 1960's. Read more
Published 4 months ago by J. Lock
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative
I was in advertising at the same time as the the author and we al looked to Maddison Avenue for inspiration. A great contemporary history of a great industryw
Published 5 months ago by mrocky
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish I'd been there !
This book is terrific what a time to have been on Madison Ave so un PC it's like a story from a different planet ! What happened ?
Published 15 months ago by Tarleton
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful gift
My husband is delighted with this book, which gives insights into the advertising industry. It is well presented with some excellent photos as well as great text.
Published 18 months ago by Vanessa Gent
5.0 out of 5 stars A country without a memory is a country of madmen
There is a quote by the 19th Century spanish philosopher George Santayana that goes something like this;

"A country without a memory is a country of madmen. Read more
Published on 26 Jan 2012 by The Dean at School of Communication Arts
5.0 out of 5 stars Memory Lane
What's happened? Didn't we learn anything? A generation of brilliance would have been forgotten if Cracknell hadn't reminded us. Read more
Published on 17 Oct 2011 by Mr. N. Parry-williams
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