Mad Women: The Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the ’60s and Beyond

Jane Maas. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $24.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-64023-1
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Maas’s humorous yet authoritative account of her life in advertising during the Mad Men era is a welcome look behind the curtain into a traditionally male world. Often asked if the popular show accurately depicts women’s second-class standing (and the copious amounts of office sex and drinking) in the 1960s, Maas (Adventures of an Advertising Woman) says yes and no. Hired as a copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather in 1964, she rose to creative director before leaving in 1976, later working at some of Manhattan’s top ad agencies. Maas takes readers through a typical office day before addressing questions of sex (yes, ad execs slept around, she realizes now), alcohol (it was customary to have a drink before, during, and after lunch), and thornier issues of balancing career demands with motherhood in a time when being a housewife was still the norm. Some of her most interesting insights come from the advertising campaigns themselves, from a failed Shake ’n Bake follow-up (Batter Fry, anyone?) to the phenomenal success of the Maas-driven “I Love New York” campaign. Sexual harassment in the work place—especially the unsubtle advances of a particular boss Maas describes—might seem foreign, but as she points out, no human resources department existed and “sexual harassment” hadn’t entered the lexicon yet. Maas mixes personal stories with advertising history, making this a compelling read. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/14/2011
Release date: 02/28/2012
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