Office party rules from Davidson Pearce and Mad Men

Do people have office parties in offices any more? Neil Christie of Wieden+Kennedy reminds us of a BBC ‘Man Alive’ documentary from 1969 – Mad Men era here as well as there – featuring the in-office party of ad agency Davidson Pearce Berry and Tuck (later just Davidson Pearce and bought by BMP, now DDB). Davidson Pearce produced the PG Tips ‘chimp’ ads among others.

Anyway Davidson Pearce, which won the Conservative Party around this time, agreed to allow the cameras in to their Christmas celebrations and a fascinating slice of late Sixties life it is. It’s here on a blog by producer Adam Curtis, with lots of bad haircuts and big eyelashes. What agency today would be brave enough to allow the cameras to film them getting steadily pissed and incoherent?
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Among the luminaries featured are media director Allan Rich, self-effacing as ever, who went on to found The Media Business which later became WPP’s MediaCom. MediaCom’s bar is named after him although, in the documentary anyway, he’s a teetotaler. A non-drinking media man in 1969? ‘Strewth. Another is agency founder Norman Berry who went on to be worldwide creative head of Ogilvy while remaining resolutely and stylishly British.

Years later I got to know managing director Chris Hawes (not in the film), who introduced me to the delights of lunching at Wheeler’s and pink gins (Chris was an old navy hand I think). He took the agency public (with misgivings, but everyone was doing it) before eventually selling to BMP. Chris was an excellent although wholly untypical adman – and a gent. He chose BMP because, among the agency’s many other attributes, they were gentlemen too.

It’s not quite as diverting as the office party at Sterling Cooper HQ in the real ‘Mad Men.’

Joan to the rescue, again. What a gal.

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About Stephen Foster

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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.

One comment

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    About the time of this party, Allan Rich had offered me £600pa to join the media department at Davidson Pearce. Luckily, Keith Belben then offered me £800 to join CPV.
    What a fortunate escape – CPV was a lot more classy, and a lot more fun!