NYC Through The Mad Men Lens



The term “Madison Avenue” became identified with the American advertising industry after the explosive growth in the area in the 1920s.  Today many associate it with the hip and mod 1960’s crowd as glamorized in the hit AMC TV drama “Mad Men” complete with skinny ties, cigarettes and Martini lunches. Today’s realty is that along with the cigarettes and booze, the major ad agencies no longer mainly reside on the famed avenue itself but rather headquarter their digital image spinning wizards of selling all across the City from SoHo to TriBeCa to (gasp) the far West side (Ogilvy).  One thing is for sure, advertising is still uniquely associated with NYC (like Broadway) and the term “Madison Avenue” is firmly planted in minds around the world.





I thought it would be interesting to see how NYC itself is portrayed in advertising so I did a bit of a search and came up with a few fun clips of local and national ads going back to the 1960s to today starting with a fun long form ad created for the 1964 Worlds Fair sponsored by Sinclair gas (I still don’t understand why we’re not living in cities that look like the Jetsons that they envisioned a half century ago!).  Check out the futuristic vision of the world complete with corporate sponsored pavilions (how many you can spot?). Some of my other favorites are the ads for “the lullaby of Broadway” for the Milford Plaza Hotel (about to relaunch completely renovated) and, of course, the world recognized and iconic “I Love NY” ads , a PSA to clean up NY and a fun 5BoroNYC ads featuring NYC filmed on skateboards.




Factoid: According to “The Emergence of Advertising in America” by the year 1861 there were twenty advertising agencies in New York City.

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