Violence in the air when Mad Men ruled the world
Shining a light on some of the seismic changes in British advertising over the last six decades was the remit of Campaign’s seminar in Cannes earlier this week, and unsurprisingly it provided plenty of fodder.
Caroline Marshall moderated the session, ‘When Soho’s Mad Men Ruled The World’, joined by Clear Channel International’s president and CEO William Eccleshare, Publicis London’s Adam Kean and Ogilvy & Mather’s (India) Piyush Pandey.
It provided an interesting romp across some well-trodden ground. The 1970s were highlighted as a time of notable creativity in the British ad industry, when creatives started to lead the agencies and push the boundaries of what it was to be in thus business.
“The thing that makes the era so distinctive is that they tapped into the period’s culture,” said Eccleshare, who was at JWT at the time.
Pandey said the creatives of the 70s had “respected the intelligence of the audience” and helped move advertising from an information-based business into one of “entertainment and even provocation”.
We were also reminded of the excesses of those operating in the heady 80s, when the UK’s claims to world ad domination started to look dodgier than a group of men with mullets piling into a single cubicle together.
Kean reminisced about his first day at Saatchi and Saatchi in 1986, when he saw an account man being pinned against a wall by a creative.
“There was a whiff of violence in the air,” he said. “They started to spend too much money. They thought they were Hollywood.”