George Parker: more Madison Avenue madness!

A couple of years ago, I did a review of Michael Farmer’s wonderful book… Madison Avenue Manslaughter. At the end of the review I summed it up with this… On a final, final note, apart from Madison Avenue Manslaughter being required reading for all agency management. I would put a gun to the heads of the CEOs of the major holding companies until they have read it from cover to cover. After all, most of this mess is their fault. So, even after they had read it, fuck it, I’d still blow their brains out.

Now, Michael has produced a second edition of his great book. This has additional chapters, including “The Media Rebate Backlash” which spells out the storm created by Jon Mandel’s speech at the ANA media conference in 2015 which exposed the rebates, ‘kickbacks” and general fucktardliness that goes against the BDA clients’ best interests.

However, the killer finale of the book is the last chapter “Icarus Advertising Agency New York, Inc. A Case Study.” Icarus sounds suspiciously like Y&R to me, whereas holding company, XLS Ltd, is obviously WPP. Either way, it is a nauseatingly familiar story to anyone who has had the misfortune to witness the implosion of what used to be a great business that paid big bucks for way superior work whilst we were smoking, drinking and shagging through the sixties… Ah well… Now merely faint memories.

Sorry, have to go now for my three martini lunch.

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About George Parker

George Parker has spent 40 years on Madison Avenue. He’s won Lions, CLIOs, EFFIES, and the David Ogilvy Award. His blog is, which is required reading for those looking for a gnarly view of the world’s second oldest profession.” His latest book, Confessions of a Mad Man, makes the TV show Mad Men look like Sesame Street.

One comment

  1. George,
    Thanks for the shout-out! Yes, The industry is still a mess — actually worse than what I found when I wrote the First Edition. And the Holding Companies still squeeze profits out of their agencies, who are seriously underpaid and swamped with growing workloads. We’re closer to the inevitable apocalypse, but when is a matter for the short-sellers. Wish I was smart enough to figure out the timing!