Mad Men

The Real 'Mad Men' Diaries: Judy Wald

Behind All Those Famed Male Creatives Was a Powerful Woman Recruiter

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Advertising Age Player
Video edited by John Picklap

It's well documented that advertising's creative revolution was male-dominated and often mysoginistic. But in truth, there was a woman behind those men helping to control their fate.

A powerhouse recruiter in the 1960s, Judy Wald regularly shuffled the decks at agencies like Doyle Dane Bernbach and Wells Rich Greene with her creative placements. Her Rolodex was bursting with the hottest names during the Mad Men days including Gene Case, Jerry Della Femina, Ron Rosenfeld and more. Her placements often started a domino effect at agencies.

The secret to her success was that Ms. Wald upended the process business by insisting that the agency, rather than the job candidate, pay her fee. That drew top names to Judy Wald's recruiting business and merited her a five-page feature in New York magazine in 1968 in which she was called "The eminence grise of advertising. Neverneverland's own Tinkerbell."

The article continued: "In the business called 'flesh peddling,' she has gathered a stable of the most creative flesh, which she has placed in all the best agencies. She is the king of personnel castle, with a host of pinstripe rascals all a-grovel."

Ms. Wald, who was also known for hosting legendary parties at Cannes, still keeps her hand in the business at age 90 with projects that she fields from her Central Park South apartment.

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