By Jane Maas
228 pages, hardcover, $24.99, Published by Thomas Dunne Books, www.thomasdunnebooks.com
This entertaining book is one woman’s account of her trials and triumphs in
the business she was in—which happened to be advertising. Jane Maas began her advertising career at Ogilvy & Mather as a copywriter in 1964 and rose to become a creative director and agency officer. She is best known for her direction of the “I Love New York” campaign.
For TV viewers of Mad Men, this book gives the background from
a woman’s point of view of Madison Avenue in the 1960s: unequal pay, sexism and the choices many women had to make between children and a career. Was there all that much sex at the office? Were there three-martini lunches? Were women second-class citizens? Yes, yes and yes.
Women weren’t assigned to work on banks because if they couldn’t balance their checkbooks, they couldn’t be expected to write about high finance. On the other hand, men weren’t assigned to work on household goods like Dove soap, Drano and Vanish toilet bowl cleaner. Maas observes, “You never saw a woman in early Ogilvy commercials drive a Mercedes, pay with an American Express card or expound on the benefits of Owens Corning Fiberglas insulation or Toro lawn mowers.”
For fervent extramarital affairs, finances became an issue. In one story, reminiscent of The Apartment, a male account supervisor at J. Walter Thompson shared a Greenwich Village apartment with a fellow at another agency. The day the key arrived, the paramour and the AS bought a bottle of wine and prepared to celebrate the housewarming. They opened the door and discovered the other couple at play. The men had neglected to work out their signals.
Funny and sad stories fill the book. Hilarious and full of inside information, Mad Women also tackles the serious issues of the day. Well-worth a read. —Jean A. Coyne