Much to the chagrin and disappointment of my wife and family I have developed a deep fascination for drinking and womanising lately, spurred on largely by my admiration for the 1960’s American advertising industry. It all kicked off a couple of years ago after picking up some blu-rays of Mad Men and ever since I’ve become deeply engrossed and mesmerised by the machismo fueled antics it portraits. A few books later (highly recommend From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor) and I was completely sold on the combination of craziness, liberation and excitement that embodied the era. It also got me thinking that maybe the web industry today isn’t so different from the advertising one 50 years ago.
Of course, unlike the advertising world of the 1960’s, the web world doesn’t indulge in the same amount of all-day drinking, pot smoking or inter-agency sex parties (I’m still hoping to be invited to one) that they did. But, regardless, I still believe they are similar in the facet that we are all pioneers of a new, fast-paced industry. Just as how advertising was evolving at a tremendous pace in the 60’s and had to deal with new and upcoming technologies like the television, today we are faced with incredibly fast online developments, coming at us from every direction. Programming language enhancements, HTML and CSS improvements, SEO changes, viral marketing, and the rapid growth of social networking constantly keep us on our toes with absolutely no hint of what will come next to completely change the way we think about the Internet.
the web world doesn’t indulge in the same amount of all-day drinking, pot smoking or inter-agency sex parties
Aside from this similarity though, my admiration for the men (and women) of Madison Avenue isn’t entirely born out of their insane antics and disregard for their own personal health and female equality but rather by the singular raw emotion that motivated people like Ogilvy and Della Femina: passion.
These guys had passion in spades and it oozed out of their pores at every opportunity. They were driven by creating amazing campaigns that would revolutionise advertising and wanted to stretch, hammer and break the boundaries of everything they did, seeing it as more than a simple job or career – it was their lives. Passion is an incredibly powerful force and I have deep respect for those people who can focus and apply it. These are the men and women who change the world; these are the people I want to be around.
So if I had my way, every company would be like the fictional Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce or the very real Jerry Della Femina & Partners. And not just for the free booze and chance to get laid with your secretary but for the opportunity to create an environment of passion, an environment that nurtures our desires to further our industry, an environment designed to allow us to excel. Every company should be like that.