Real Men and Women of Madison Avenue: Their Impact on American Culture

By Matt Van Hoven 

Every once in awhile, we like to take a moment and look back to the annuls of addie history, to a time when consumerism was in its infancy and the industry that’s become so screwed up today was creating a little thing called “Americana” and forever changing our lives.

To commemorate the men and women behind advertising’s great early works, the New York Public library is hosting an exhibition of sorts, which officially begins tomorrow. And being that it’s our job to keep you informed on this stuff, we’ll be there tonight for the grand opening thing that you have to be invited to. Check back for photos and commentary.


Also, I’m pretty sure anyone that RSVPs can come to tonight’s opening (which is like a pre-opening event). To find out more, contact Diane Stefani at diane at rosengrouppr dot com.

Full release after the jump. New York Public Library event page here.

“Does She or Doesn’t She?” “Think Different.” “I Want My MTV.” “Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands.” “Just Do It.” “Got Milk?” “Where’s the Beef?” These slogans are part of the American zeitgeist, but little is known about many of the people who created them—the culturally astute men and women who tapped so successfully into their generations’ desires and fears. This first-of-its-kind exhibition, presented by The One Club and The New York Public Library, shows that the people who created some of the most famous advertisements of the 20th century were as colorful as their slogans—from former spy David Ogilvy to scrappy street fighter George Lois, to tough, hardworking women such as Mary Wells Lawrence, Phyllis Robinson, and Shirley Polykoff, who held their own in the famously male world of 1950s and 1960s Mad Ave. The exhibition highlights the lives and work of dozens of brilliant copywriters and art directors who helped shape American consumption and culture over the past 80 years. The Real Men and Women of Madison Avenue: Their Impact on American Culture features more than 200 advertisements, posters, books, TV commercials, and video and audio interviews that amount to a commercial history of 20th-century America. The majority of the men and women represented have been elected into The One Club’s Creative Hall of Fame.