Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Advertising Rule From Mad Men Days

If Sterling Cooper (the Mad Men agency now swallowed up by McCann) had a wealth management account, they would have known the rule well:

The bigger the bull market, the greater the ad spending.

Corollary: When bears emerge, wealth managers lose the urge to splurge.

True half a century ago, and probably true still.

The rule may seem illogical. Investors fear loss more than they desire gain, so bear markets should make them more willing to seek expert help. Wealth managers take the contrary view: They  find new accounts easiest to come by near market highs because bull markets make investors greedy.

This year, with the market near nominal highs, ads for wealth management are plentiful. Both BNY Mellon and Bessemer Trust had ads in last Sunday's NY Times magazine. Half a century ago, when the Dow flirted with highs it would not reach again until the 1980's, fiduciaries also were advertising briskly. For example:

In 1965 senior execs were paid a pittance by today's compensation standards, but this one didn't suffer. He got to fly on the new company plane! Chase Manhattan chose a more leisurely theme:

Vintage autos are just as appealing today as they were fifty years ago.  Here's a bonus ad from the same issue of The New Yorker, featuring a car that's still fondly remembered. So fondly that Lincoln may bring out a new Continental.

Art directors probably haven't received their due on Mad Men. It was the art director who realized the Continental ad required lots of white space and an understated headline.

Finally, one more colorful collage from Irving Trust:

Note the elephant on the Thailand medal at lower right.


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