A while back, a television series about the advertising business hit the screen. I watched one episode of this and that was enough. Unfortunately it brought up some seriously bad memories. The three hour martini lunch was played up, but in all actuality it was true. The dog-eat-dog world of selling a client on your idea was vicious. Men and women dressed to the hilt in the agency business and there were always rumors floating around about infidelity.
This was my husband’s chosen profession when he finished his art education in Chicago and Milwaukee. Picture this – a young, Christian man who had spent his young educational years in parochial schools left his parental home to live and study in the big city of Chicago. Imagine how this naïve, sheltered young man had his eyes opened to the reality of the world in an instant. He lived off campus at the YMCA and took the El to school every day, soaking up images of life at its lowest.
He began as an apprentice in a print shop, gaining valuable information which would help him in his future endeavors. He went through the ranks and eventually became a creative director for a large agency. His manager enjoyed those 3 hour lunches and often kept a bottle hidden in his desk drawer. Paul knew what would result from that lifestyle and was able to resist the temptation to become involved. He also wondered how anything creative could come out of a gin saturated brain.
He worked many hours of overtime trying to come up with ideas that would win the client’s confidence and apparently his clear head led him to success in doing so. So, the responsibilities grew along with the salary and he loved the idea of being free to create and sell his ideas. He didn’t have to do anything underhanded to accomplish this either.
The day finally came when he decided to run his own agency. So with a small bankroll, he took a small office in the basement of an old mansion – sort of like returning to his roots. His life in the funeral home was nothing like this however. There was a psychiatrist working out of the office above him, who used primal therapy in his treatment. Strange and loud sounds often came out of that office.
He worked alone for a few years and I helped with the business side of it, but that didn’t last long. Eventually he hired a secretary. Soon he moved up to the first floor and finally up to the top floor of the beautiful old building and hired a few more employees. In the end, he moved into a new office building and hired some more folks. The business grew and flourished for a while and he never had to betray any of his ethics or beliefs.
When the economy took a dive, he had to begin the process of laying people off and making serious cuts. It was then that God led him to a totally different way of life.
I know the Mad Men series shows a pretty seedy side of this business, but it didn’t have to be that way. Much like the political scene today, advertising developed a tarnished image. Now the creative side has all but disappeared. The use of technology has done away with that process.
I have the privilege of being married to an ethical Mad Man of the 60s, 70s and 80s. His love for God has permeated every area of his life – even enduring an environment where lions eagerly prowled.
“In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.” Ecclesiastes 7:14