MAD WOMEN: CAREER, SEX, BROKEN HOME!
An anonymous female Client Service from one of the agencies around sent a mail to this writer. In the mail, she tersely recounted how her would-be husband (a trader), suddenly called off their wedding plans. Her offense: she’s giving all of herself to her advertising job, and wouldn’t even consider quitting. She’s one of the mad women!
She comes home late almost everyday, no space for intimacy. Weekends if she’s not busy working from home, she would be in one client’s event, or on the road with her male boss to some goddamned presentation. In fact, he concluded that she has no life of her own anymore, and even went as far as accusing her of sleeping with her boss, just like they did in Mad Men (obviously he must have seen the series). This allegation from him shattered their union to irredeemable bits.
Perhaps, the warped perception started from the highly popular and louche TV series, “Mad Men,” created by Matthew Weiner. Largely, the show not only portrayed admen as leading a meaningless life, but also the misapprehension that women were just making headway into the industry in the 1960s, hence to climb up the ladder, they parted their legs.
A case in point would be an episode where Megan Calvet, Don Draper’s secretary, approached Don and suggestively told him that she’s ready to do ANYTHING it takes to get elevated like Peggy Olson.
However, a contrary view came from the book, “Mad Women: The Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the 60s and Beyond,”written by Jane Maas, a lady popularly referred to as “the real life Peggy Olson.” Maas began her career at Ogilvy and Mather as a copywriter in 1964, eventually becoming its Creative Director few years later through dint of hard work.
In the said book, Maas agreed that though in the 60s and 70s, most offices within the ad industry were littered with reckless sex and booze; notwithstanding, it would be grossly unfair to paint all the ad-women in that era with such a brush. In fact, such amoral acts thrived back then more because in the 60s, there was no such thing as HR department to check conducts.
She further argued that even before the Mad Men era of 1960, women had been highly visible within the industry. The first female-owned agency, The M.C. Weil Agency, was setup in 1880 by Mathilde C. Weil. Also, the concept of “Sex Appeal” in advertising, and its usage was initiated by lady Helen Lansdowne, a copywriter with J. Walter Thompson in 1910 when she created the campaign “A Skin You Love to Touch” for Woodbury Facial Soap. And the list goes on.
Fast-forward to today, one can equally state that majority of women/ladies within the industry are not only pushing limits, they’ve got bigger ambitions too. This very fact explained the barrage of condemnation that was heaped on Kevin Roberts, the ex-chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, when he blew the gaff during an interview with Business Insider last year, saying today’s women lacked “vertical ambition.” In fact, his verbal error cost him his job as the Publicis Group, the holding company, advised him to step down from his position with immediate effect.
“Vertical ambition” simply means an upward drive for growth. Where such desire is missing, “Horizontal ambition,” a laid back mien, automatically takes over.
Even within the ambit of the above narrative, the other side of the coin is the fact that the work culture permeating the industry today is almost becoming a death knell for a typical family unit.
Just like the 60s when sex and booze were the poisons of that era; unhealthy long hours of work is our poison today, and this is not only taking its toll on the health of staffers, it’s equally straining relationships with loved ones at home. Truth be told, the women/ladies are having it even harder.
According to Jane Maas, “the throw them under the bus work flow within industries today is a recipe for broken homes and single parentage. There’s no such thing as 9-to-5 anymore! You’ll work long and long hours only to realize that you’re already old, and you’ve never truly lived!”
In fairness to today’s businesses though, surviving the harsh economy is almost difficult if not impossible. And when you throw today’s horde of hard-to-please clients into the mix, one will understand why some agencies operate into the nights, and even over the weekend.
At the end of the day, everything boils down to striking the right balance, such that agencies will keep being in business, but not at the detriment of the family units of the members of staff.
More than anything else, it’s imperative for people to work smart. When we work smart, there’ll always be time to nurture relationships, or bond with family members at home.