Jerry Della Femina’s right about one thing, Mad Men is set a decade too late

Legendary New York adman Jerry Della Femina is plugging a reissue of his seminal book ‘From those wonderful folks who gave you Pearl Harbor,’ set in the 1960s , and claimed to the Guardian that he was a combo of Mad Men stalwarts Don Draper, Peggy Olson and Bert Cooper all in one person.

Well up to a point Jerry. He wasn’t as handsome as Don Draper, as adept at running a business as Sterling Cooper boss Bert Cooper or a woman.

But Della Femina does make the point that the Mad Men stereotypes are actually from the 1950s (late 1950s admittedly) rather than the 1960s when star creative directors, like Mad Men’s Don Draper, weren’t going around trying to be Cary Grant in North by North West but were trying to be like Jerry himself, or Bill Bernbach.

Of course in adverts, like any other business, two or more trends can run side by side.

So in the 1960s there were still lots of ad agencies in America and elsewhere who carried on as though Doyle Dane Bernbach had never produced its celebrated ‘Lemon’ ad for the VW Beetle, London hadn’t learned to swing at agencies like Collett Dickenson Pearce and the Beatles hadn’t played Shea Stadium.

But the movers and shakers surely did recognise this big time and so brilliant Mad Men writer Matthew Weiner has got his decades crossed.

As you can see from the Guardian article, Della Femina too changed with the times. In one shot he’s trying to appear all preppy in a Brooks Brothers button-down (standard issue at JWT London at the time and still favoured by WPP’s Jeremy Bullmore, who began his career in that era) and then he’s all Isaac Hayes, shaved crown and aggressive shades.

Draper, on the other hand, is narrow lapels, thin tie and hat; definitely ’50s rather than ’60s, in Mad Ave anyway.

Still, there you go. It’s still a great show and Don may surprise us yet in the new series by turning up to Sterling Cooper HQ in loons with a moustache.

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advertising collett dickenson pearce Don Draper mad men the guardian

About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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