The Agency World, When Men Were 'Mad'

A Glimpse of Adland, Circa 1964

By Published on .

As the fourth season of "Mad Men" debuts on Sunday (just in case anyone didn't know that), here's a quick look at the advertising world by the numbers. Season four's first episode takes us back to Thanksgiving 1964. We used our archivally-gloved hands and thumbed through the 1965 issues of Ad Age to find the leading national advertisers and agency reports to see what Madison Avenue looked like as Don Draper was carving his turkey.

'Mad Men'
'Mad Men' Credit: AMC
In 1964, the world's biggest agencies (by estimated total billings) were some familiar names: J. Walter Thompson Co., McCann-Erickson Inc., Young & Rubicam, Batten Barton, Durstien & Osborn and Dentsu Advertising. Ogilvy, Benson & Mather and Mather & Crowther would have ranked No. 14 as their newly merged Ogilvy and Mather.

Interpublic owned eight agencies, including McCann. Publicis ranked No. 50.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 110,200 people worked in the ad biz, including 41,200 women. Think more Joan Holloway, less Peggy Olson.

Three of Sterling Cooper's clients were brands owned by the Leading National Advertisers of the day: American Tobacco Co. spent 5.9% of its sales advertising Lucky Strike and other brands; Gillette spent 15.1% ($45 million) of sales on advertising; and Richardson-Merrell Inc. spent a portion of its $15.5 million budget on a smaller Sterling Cooper client, Clearasil, thanks to Pete Campbell's father-in-law.

The show airs Sunday on AMC, one of a bazillion digital channels currently on your cable/dish network as opposed to the three Don Draper would have been watching in 1964.

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