A couple of days ago I had the absolute pleasure of catching up with some former advertising agency colleagues from McCann’s or as it was known in those days in Australia …Hansen Rubensohn – McCann Erickson. The agency enjoyed an envious client roster which included the Australian Labor Party, Australian Consolidated Industries, Caltex Oil, Marrickville Holdings, Nestlé, Philips Electrical Industries, Samuel Taylor (Mortein), Trans-Australian Airlines and Victa Mowers.
They were heady days. I was just a young lad surrounded by many’advertising greats.’ My personal role was as a junior account executive on the Marrickville Holdings Group on Miracle margarine, Lucky Dog and Kitty Litter.
It was a time when the Madmen still prevailed.
Our boss was described by Bryce Courtenay as an ‘utter and complete bastard’, and remembered for ‘his irascible, high-pitched voice barking instructions’.
‘Political correctness’ was yet to be defined. Yes people smoked in the office and there was a lot of that Madmen behaviour but there was more camaraderie and a less ruthless attitude towards staff that there is today.
No Interns – agencies recognised the need to nurture talent.
In those days the best gig in town was getting accepted to a major agency because you would be trained in the advertising skill sets, production, creative, media and account management and were given the choice (if you showed the aptitude) of working in the area that you wanted to specialise in.
back to the lost artwork story…
It was a time when a magazine advertisement was literally a work of art and a highly valuable piece of art had gone missing. The deadline was approaching and the production manager, well known for his ability to reduce grown men to a trembling mess was looking for a victim to vent his rage.
Young Chris knew quite well that his current boss and mentor, a subordinate of the production manager, had mislaid the artwork.
When the production manager burst through the door, Chris’s boss had no hesitation in pointing straight to Chris and saying –
‘He’s the one that lost it !’
What followed was a legendary ‘shellacking’ which left young Chris shaking and obviously furious at his supposed mentor.
When the production manager left his mentor quickly responded to Chris’ fit of pique without hesitation and said..
You should be grateful..I just taught how you to lie and keep a straight face!
…those were the days.