Mad Men

'Alas, Admen! You're Not Professionals': Real Headlines From the Mad Men Era

Throwback Thursday: More Ad Age Stories from 1970

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In the most recent episode of "Mad Men," Sally Draper is all grown up and facing some very adult realities, peace-loving neighbor Glenn is joining the military and Joan was verging on true love. What was going on in the real ad world at the time? Find out in this week's installment of Real Headlines from the Mad Men Era.

Alas, Admen! You're Not Professionals
In 1970, admakers were not professionals, according to a New York apellate court, which ruled against a team at Scott-Textor Productions that wrote, sang, acted and produced scripts for TV and radio. Scott-Textor had argued that, as professionals, they were exempt from the 4% business tax imposed by the state. But the court determined that ad makers, unlike film and play artists, were not professionals. "The activities of an artist who writes for motion pictures, plays, television or radio are exempt, while the petitioner production of advertising is not. The distinction is obviously premised upon the degree of expertise training and background required for the activity."

Football Prices Keep Rising; Advertisers Keep Signing Anyhow
It's fun to keep track of Super Bowl prices. Back in 1970, the going (and rising) rate for a Super Bowl ad was about $200,000 for a 60-second spot. Sounds like a deal compared to today's price of about $150,000 per second.

Hot Shot Worked a Lot on Anti-Bug Spot
So this is what a big ad production looked like back in the day. On Atlanta shop Tucker Wayne & Co.'s shoot for Hot Shot Quality Products' outdoor fogger, a four-second sequence took two and a half days to rig and shoot. Actors were dressed as gnats, mosquitoes and flies, then illustrated the repelling power of the spray by bumping up against a giant piece of plexiglass. Finally they "flew" away via elaborate rigs.

Animated Giant Will Be Live in Valleyville (Wherever That Is)
Here's another one to illustrate the impressive VFX of the early '70s. The Green Giant Co. found a way to depict its hulking mascot, until then only a cartoon character, in live action. A new technique called "Magnascope" allowed the company to shoot a man as if he appeared to be 50 to 60 feet tall next to other actors. It was based on an optical illusion effect similar to that achieved when people are shot in photographs and seem to be holding something very big (like the Statue of Liberty) in the palm of their hand.

Food Marketers Pressure Media
New York Democratic Representative Leonard Farbstein called for an FCC investigation into food advertisers, who seemed to be wielding their spending power as a tool to shut down unfavorable reportage on the food industry. Farbstein charged that Miami grocery chains Winn Dixie and Publix, for example, ceased advertising in the Miami News after a three-part series on local food coding practices, leading to a $22,000 monthly revenue loss at the paper.

Peace Symbol Appears in Ads for Lucky Filters
American Brands Inc.'s Lucky Filters co-opted the peace symbol in what turned out to be a controversial newspaper ad that appeared in the New York Daily News, the New York Post and ten other Gannett papers. The 200-line ad featured a Lucky Filters pack, but the circle that usually surrounds the logo contained a peace symbol instead. A one-word headline read, "Peace." An American Brands exec said that "there is no philosophy" behind the ad and that "it boils down to an emotional appeal." Ad Age did not run a picture of the ad with the story ...

... but, later, in a letter to the editor, the ad did appear, with a suggestion from a reader that the copy should read "Rest in Peace" instead.