Friday, April 03, 2015

Mad Men Ads of 1970 (the Worst Was Yet to Come)

Watching the last half of Mad Men's final season? Reportedly the story picks up in 1970, a bad year that ushered in a worse decade.

How bad? It was the year the Beatles broke up. The 1970s brought long lines at gas stations, double-digit drops in the purchasing power of a dollar, and the worst stock market bust, in real terms, since the Great Depression.

The 1970s are remembered as the decade that taste forgot. For good reason. See ad at right. (To all who were offended by my 1970s' plaid suit, sincere apologies.)

Even the 1970 ads from trust companies seemed to lose their zing.

This US Trust ad is OK, I guess (I may have written it) but it falls far short of the psychological insights that Merrill Anderson's founder crafted. (Had to look up congenerics. They are companies in the same or similar industry that offer noncompeting products or services. Investopedia labels Citigroup's merger with Travelers Insurance, now undone, as congeneric.)

By 1970 Chase Manhattan's iconic nest eggs had been replaced by a mess of pottery:

Is there a museum that would have accepted such a collection in 1970? What about now?

More than a nest egg is missing from the ad. Chase's trust division has become the "planning division."

Postscript: The New York Times has compiled an educational survey of cultural references in Mad Men.

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