Jerry Della Famina, a Madison Avenue Mad Man wrote the book as a promotional effort for his ad agency in 1970. In essence it is very much a self promotional book in the style of Connie Hilton's Be My Guest
or closer to home (advertising industry) David Ogilvy's Confessions of an Advertising Man
As stated on the cover, it really is gossip filled and it very much describes the world of the Mad Men - Series 1-3 [DVD
] series. On the other hand it appears to have been written by someone with a severe attention deficit disorder and coherent organisation or a storyline is truly not something you can charge this book with. One can certainly see why David Ogilvy thought the lunatics took over the asylum (referring to people like Della Femina) and I was really left to wonder why the author would find the comment an affront.
So what do you get? The book is certainly entertaining. I am not sure if it works best after a three martini lunch - reading it sober one does start to wonder how many tangents the guy can go off on while trying to tell a story and how often he can contradict himself (with supreme confidence). You get some insight into the advertising business of the 1960s but not nearly of the quality and usefulness of Confessions of an Advertising Man
. The odd nugget of useful and informative knowldge transmitted is hard to find and it usually requires a reader already well versed in the industry. Ogilvy in contrast appears like a university course in advertising, while still providing sterling entertainment (and some less gossip).
Where it scores fully is in being an excellent advertorial for the author, his agency and more broadly the industry (advertising). It is written in a style guaranteed to draw in starry eyed 18 year olds (as was the trend at the time) and even though the author states clearly that most of them will be chewed out and truly damaged after a couple of years, the siren's call would likely have proven to be too strong. I would imagine it drawing in the occassional client, too - if not the book was revenue generating in its own right.
Funilly enough, in my opinion the Mad Men - Series 1-3 [DVD
] works much better than the book and is a much more coherent whole. But then again the series was produced for a different audience with a different focus.