I was an Advertising Age fan long before I left UPI to join its New York staff in February 1962. At UPI, I wrote TV reviews, and I came to rely on Ad Age's television coverage to keep me posted on TV-sponsor relationships.
With Ad Age Executive Editor Jim O'Gara's guidance, I began covering these advertisers as well as the Young Turks who were opening their own little agencies as part of Madison Avenue's "creative revolution."
We also covered the new "big agency" leaders who were succeeding a generation of legendary agency founders/gatekeepers, along with the emerging independent media buying services, the epochal Wall Street-led IPO movement, the creation of global agency networks for global clients, the advent of cable, satellite communications, integrated marketing and the ongoing cybertech revolution.
We wrote of the irreverent new players who were amassing wealth that erased every trace of their early struggles and gave us fresh "only in America" stories. Women became part of the mix, too, seizing career opportunities in media sales and ad agency leadership.
And we served up a raft of numbers-to-live-by-billings, ad budgets, brand market shares, audiences, circulation, media revenues, salaries, etc.-as we "followed the money."
Being the leading publication in our field, Ad Age delivered serious, objective editorials on important issues of the day to guide the industry. And in continually enriching our content, we brought our readers-among America's brightest, most influential entrepreneurial spirits-an International section, op-ed page, minority and ethnic marketing sections, weekly Special Reports, and, yes, even a Thursday edition, plus our Creativity and Electronic Media spinoffs.
Then, in October 1990, with Gorbachev's push for "perestroika" in full cry and the Cold War winding down, Ad Age was asked to present an Advertising Workshop-in Moscow.
The people we met there-already comfortable in American jeans, fans of our rock stars, Marlboros and their first McDonald's-were eager for more examples of what America offered. Our workshop "faculty" focused on examples of how advertising-for VW, Ford, P&G, Coca-Cola, Sony, Apple's Macintosh, etc.-built sales, companies and brands, created jobs and spurred economic growth. Russia's future agency and media leaders got the message.
In opening their hearts and minds to advertising's powers I came to realize that each and every issue of Ad Age carries a transcendent message. Yes, its pages are filled with news about money, power, people, economic vitality, all celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit of this blessed nation. But subtly, even subliminally, what Ad Age really tracks week after week is the most enduring quality of all-America's freedoms. Happy Birthday, Ad Age.
Fred Danzig joined Ad Age as senior editor in February 1962, became executive editor in 1969 and editor in 1984. He has been an occasional AA contributor since his retirement in 1995.