Jerry Della Femina: From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor

“The cult Classic that inspired Mad Men” står der på en lille mærkat på forsiden af den her reklamemands-selvbiografi fra 1970, og det er hovedårsagen til, at jeg har læst den. “Mad Men” er tv-serien om de kæderygende, heftigt drikkende womanizers på et New York-reklamebureau i 60’erne og deres arbejde, og det er et fascinerende univers!

Jeg ved ikke hvor stor en del af æren eller inspirationen til serien, denne her bog skal have/er. Men der er stor genkendelsesværdi når man læser den, og man kan ligefrem genkende flere optrin og situationer. Så de to ligger i hvert fald fint i forlængelse af hinanden.

Og Madison Avenue, hvor alle bureauerne lå i reklamernes guldalder, er virkelig et skørt sted, befolket af drukkenbolte, drengerøve, skæve kreative hoveder, pudsige kunder (kunder kaldes i øvrigt konsekvent “accounts”), og alskens særlinge. Og fordi der var tale om “kreative” arbejdspladser, trivedes der øjensynligt en meget frisindet, mærkelig, småsyret arbejdskultur med plads til alskens særlinge og deres sære ideer og vaner.

Det er ret sjovt at læse anekdoter om:

The first day I was at work we were sitting around in an art director’s office and a guy came running into the office, screaming ‘Channel Eight, Channel Eight, there’s something on Channel Eight.’

With this the room, which was full of guys, emptied. They litterally ran over me. They ran down the hall and I followed them and when they got to the end of the hall they opened the doorway that led to the stairwell. Daniel & Charles was located on Thirty-fourth street, about ten feet apart from an apartment building. It was almost as if they were connecting buildings. From the stairwell these guys were able to look right into the apartment building, and they had designated the various apartments as Channel One, Channel Two, and so forth. Channel Eight was a very zaftig-looking young girl who happened to be walking around in her bra at the time – and nothing else. And like everybody was standing there, you know, commenting on the chick, throwing lines like, ‘I don’t think she’s as nice as Channel Five.’ This was my initiation into advertising.

Bogen er delt i forskellige tematiske kapitler og fortalt i et sprog, man ellers mest ser hos wiseguys i Scorseses mafiafilm. Jeg forestiller mig Della Femina med en diktafon, der bare lader tankerne flyve:

It’s not tough to figure out why there is so much fear in advertising. It’s my theory that much of the fear starts very, very casually. Let’s say the wife of the chairman of a board of a very large company is sitting under the hair dryer one day and she hears a couple of chicks talking about a funny Volkswagen commercial. At dinner that night she starts naggingq her husband. He’s got enough headaches as it is, what with trying to get a new line of credit that won’t be usury, and also thinking he’s developing a heart condition. Anyhow, there’s his wife whining, ‘Harry, oh Harry, why can’t your company have funny little commercials like they do for Volkswagen?’ He feels a little pain in his chest and he mumbles something at her.

Og så er der selvfølgelig også en masse gode, saftige historier om de kreative processer, om forholdet mellem account og creative people, om rivaliseringen mellem de forskellige bureauer. Della Femina har selv været hele møllen igennem, fra bydreng til bureauchef, så han har nok at dele ud af. Det ærgrer mig at jeg ikke kender halvdelen af de firmaer og stort set ingen af de kampagner, han refererer til – det ville kun have gjort læsningen endnu bedre.

Men som kommunikationsuddannet er det også sjovt bare at opleve, hvordan tingene gik for sig den gang i branchen – man får virkelig indtryk af, at der er sket meget siden da. Også selv om meget stadig er det samme:

The quality of most advertising really depends on what has to be said. You’re writing ads on insurance, it’s easy. It’s great to do ads on the stock market. It’s simple to do ads on a camera that gives You a picture sixty seconds after you shoot it. The big problem is the guy who has to an ad for soap. Some poor son of a bitch is sitting in his office at Compton right this minute trying to figure out what to sat about Ivory Soap that hasn’t been said maybe twenty thousand times before. I mean, what do you say? Where do you go? No matter what you say, it’s still soap.

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