It is indeed refreshing to view AMC's "Mad Men" and the return glimpse of the 1960s. This is done by once again reflecting to those great times following fads, clothing, cars, bad habits and some commercials we thought we had forgotten.
The story itself relates to a different era and time that centers on the advertising industry, and the dysfunctional families and characters that appear weekly on this highly regarded series. Those who follow the story know that the drama is led by advertising executive bad boy Don Draper and his professional ego and explosive steamy trysts with a personal history that is abnormal to say the least.
All of us who call ourselves seniors and have resided in this Mahoning Valley can easily delve '60s and recall rather vividly those commercials that Draper and his cohorts successfully enact and enter into (at that time) a black and white TV, along with magazines and newspapers.
I can recall purchasing my first color TV at The Record Shop located on Market Street and Midlothian in Youngstown. These ads were always pressure packed, as companies and advertising executives often met with little or no success. During the board meetings, it seems that a large never-ending supply of booze and cigarettes seem to encompass and occupy the room. That would be a no-no in 2010, as good health is more of a priority in the executive world than in the '60s.
We, who are seniors, can relate back to some of those commercials from the '60s. Although they seem a little boring compared to what we see now, we can still appreciate them as we drift back to a decade when things were so much slower. The mills of Youngstown and Warren were flourishing, and General Motors was making a bold entry into our valley. Seems like just yesterday!
We can still remember the Pepsi commercials "For those who think young" and Coca Cola ads that proclaimed that "Things go better with Coke." Who will ever forget Brylcreem's "a little dab will do ya." Back then the cigarette industry was in full swing and very competitive, led by "The Marlboro Man." It was also "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should." For the ladies and Virginia Slims, it was "You've come a long way, baby." In "Mad Men" this past year, after losing their valuable account with Lucky Strike, Draper decided to send a letter to the newspapers declaring that they will no longer write, advertise or promote smoking in any way due to the many health hazards connected with their products.
Did you know that Ronald Reagan even pitched Boraxo Hand Soap? Can you imagine Jim Davis, who played Jock Ewing on Dallas, pitching and promoting a brand new 1964 Buick Wildcat convertible? Many actors and actresses were paid huge sums for doing TV commercials including Marilyn Monroe, Vincent Price, Andy Griffith and even Bugs Bunny. Bugs did commercials about Tang, that powdery orange drink, before astronauts proclaimed it as their own
For Saturday morning and cartoons with the kids, in cereal it was the Cheerios commercial saying "He's got go power," and we all know that "Trix is for kids." Sugar Bear was also always hanging around peddling Sugar Crisp. Tony the Tiger couldn't get enough of those Sugar Frosted Flakes. Kool Aid commercials and Flintstone vitamins gained fame with the kids on Saturday mornings also. Ronald McDonald appeared out of nowhere as McDonald's decided to push their fast food to the kiddies as well. The word "sugar" on products came to a screeching halt by the '80s due to parents demanding less sugar. The word "sugar" was sometimes replaced with the word "golden." That fight still continues today.
In the medicine line, the character "Speedy" played a huge part on the purchasing of Alka Seltzers. Beer commercials were around then and still occupy a huge percentage of ads today.
Those were just a few of the commercials that occupied air time on our black and white TVs back in those glory days of the 1960s. I moved to the Austintown area in the mid-'60s and can recall all those great commercials and can pinpoint time and place where I first saw them.
Getting back to "Mad Men," in creating those great commercials there had to have been some of the pressures indicated on this TV series. As boring as they seem to be today, in the 1960s, they were a work of art, and people who were the Don Drapers of yesteryear should be applauded for their efforts in producing commercials that just made you want to buy their product. Now, for the steaminess of Draper and his pals in and around the office, that's another story.
(Some of the facts were obtained from .)