Mad Men

Nude Sensitivity Lessons for Agencies, Debut of Coke's 'Hilltop' and More Headlines from the Mad Men Era

Throwback Thursday: More Ad Age Stories From the 1970s

By Published on .

We said farewell to Don and the gang last Sunday, and, in a way, it wasn't so bad. Although Betty's goodbye -- in a touching scene with her former hubby -- was a tearjerker, the others fared pretty well. Joan conceived a brilliant plan that perhaps paved the way for the big commercial production companies of today; Pete and Trudy found a glamorous, jet-set lifestyle; Roger finally settled down with Marie Calvet, Megan's mom, Peggy and Stan discovered they were soulmates; and Don finally made peace with himself at the soul-searching Esalen Institute in Big Sur -- before moving on to create one of advertising's most iconic ads, Coca-Cola's "Hilltop."

But what was going on in the real ad world at the time? Find out in our final edition of Real Ad Age Headlines from the Mad Men era.


The Debut of Coca-Cola "Hilltop"
When Ad Age first reported on the debut of the Coke "Hilltop" ad, it only merited a small blurb in the Adbeat section from August 2, 1971. (Perhaps our rival, The New York Times got the exclusive.) The article about the new campaign noted that new ads were placing less emphasis on the "It's the Real Thing" tag, yet were a "subtle appeal 'to amplify the spirit' of the theme," as suggested by one of the commercials, which states "I'd like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company."


Coke Sticks to McCann Despite Backer Leaving
About eight years after the debut of that famous ad, Vice-Chairman and Creative Director Bill Backer, the real man behind "Hilltop," resigned from the agency, citing his unease due to "philosophical differences with the parent company Interpublic." After the Coke ad, Mr. Backer, also a composer and lyricist, went on to create other famous jingles, including "If you've got the time, we've got the beer," for Miller and "Here's to good friends," for Lowenbrau. Despite his decision, Coca-Cola at the time intended to remain with McCann.


Creative Folks Are Sensitive to Agency's Climate
You wonder how the change of scene will affect Peggy and the rest of the Sterling Cooper gang that stayed at McCann. As many are saying today, experts back then cited how environment plays a key role in the creative output of agency professionals. This article describes how a thesis by Albert Kover, a Cornell professor and former manager of market research at FCB and Kenyon & Eckhardt, determined how surroundings are important to creatives: "It was even shown that a man from a less creative agency going to a creative one releases a lot more creativity in his new environment," Mr. Kover said.


Advertising Must Be Honest to Survive in the 1970s
The theme of transparency isn't a new thing. Back in November, 1970, Draper Daniels, chairman of Draper Daniels Inc. told a seminar of ad professionals, "I don't think we can afford advertising that talks to other advertising men with 'in' jokes and slick cynicism in the '70s. Neither do I think we can afford advertising that tries to con the public with deftly devised permissible lies." He recommends a new m.o. with uncanny parallels to marketing today: "If advertising is to have an expanding future, I believe we are going to have to develop a new morality in advertising in the '70s" that will be based "not on what we can get away with, but on what is good for the customer."


"Why Didn't I Do This Before?" Asks Deutsch
You can imagine Don Draper would have done something like this, had he not, presumably, returned to McCann. Apparently, boutique agencies weren't "over" at the time and this article reveals the seedlings of Deutsch, founded as a new small shop at 500 5th Avenue in New York in November, 1970 by David Deutsch, Donny's father. He previously worked for four years at Ogilvy and before that, 13 years at McCann. "Why didn't I do this sooner?" he asked. His first clients were Fiat and Oneida, and he offered that familiar service that comes with startups: he said after he shows a client his work,"I can say, truthfully, that I'm talking to him as the man who will do the work. I tell him I'm dependent on him and that I'm more apt to do more for him because of it."

Nude Sensitivity Sessions: Just What Madison Ave Needs
So Esalen, that soul-searching retreat center in Big Sur that helped Don make peace with himself was -- and still is -- a real thing. And apparently, it resonated with the ad community back in 1970. Top ad creative Jane Trahey even wrote a column about it after she received the institute's latest catalog and was inspired to imagine agency life via the Esalen way. Jokingly, she translated the organization's "Nude Psycotherapy," "Silent Sensory Weekend," "50 Positions From Which to Experience Living" to methodologies that could dimensionalize agency life and help execs reach their full career potential.
Most Popular