Ad Madness

I’ve been wanting to write this blog for a long time, but was afraid that it would end up being too snarky…

I love the AMC show Mad Men. I think part of the attraction of the show is how cringe worthy some of the misogynistic ways the men treat women in the office. I’ve talked to my Mom, who worked in a large office around the same time the show was set. She said it was not quite as bad as that, but that there was a glass ceiling in the company, and a woman could not expect to rise above the level of supervisor. When my Mom left in 1962, she was a claims supervisor, which was the highest level a woman could achieve. My Mom worked at an insurance company, not in advertising, but I saw a degree of this type of male centered behavior when I worked in advertising in 2005.
In 2005, I began working as an intern at an advertising agency in Dallas. I didn’t have any ad experience; I had always wanted to work for this company after this guy I knew in AA had worked for them. I used some connections to get a job as a Account Planning intern. What I noticed during my time there was that advertising is a man’s world. Oh there were plenty of women who worked there, and they were treated with respect on a certain level, but in the most important aspect of advertising, creative, there were few if any women. The men who inhabit the creative positions were much like comedians are…they didn’t think women could bring the creativity. The jobs that most of the women had were in account services and in media. Many of the women in these jobs walked around looking like they were miserable. During my time there, only two women filled senior executive positions…one in public relations and the other in account services.
I enjoyed working at that ad agency, despite the impression I got from some of the people there that they felt their work was extremely precious. For me, I could never reconcile my quasi Marxist beliefs with my job or encouraging people to buy expensive refrigerators or shop at home improvement stores. I don’t think advertising is where less than talented artists go to make tons of money. Most of the people I worked with were interesting and kind…except that one Canadian…
Now I’m not saying that advertising today is like what is depicted in Mad Men…there wasn’t the drinking all day and we got to wear whatever we wanted to work…we didn’t have to wear suits…but I think that the male hold on creative work at advertising agencies should be loosened. I mean, how difficult is it really to sell chicken sandwiches?

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