American Advertising: From ‘Mad Men’ to Silicon Valley

American Advertising: From ‘Mad Men’ to Silicon Valley

Gone are the days of smoky, whiskey-infused boardroom meetings, a gaggle of middle aged men talking strategy — among other things — seated around a table in starched suits, while well-coiffed secretaries take notes and schedule important client lunches.

It’s been almost 60 years since the “Mad Men” era, and safe to say, advertising has come a long way, baby.

For starters, an actual eight-hour workday is a rarity. You likely can’t smoke within the vicinity of your building, let alone your office. And like the typewriter and the rotary telephone, the three-martini lunch is all but a faded memory.

Hit TV shows like Matthew Weiner’s “Mad Men” look at this era through the technicolor lens of nostalgia. However, advertising has evolved with more positives than negatives, and its trajectory continues to go up and to the right. Women now comprise around half of advertising agency staff, while almost 20% hold management or executive positions. Ad agency staffs are also becoming increasingly diverse, with minorities now occupying between a fifth to a quarter of employees.

This rising tide of diversity facilitates a more tolerant work environment that embraces different cultures, races, nationalities, sexual orientations, and beliefs. There is less tolerance for sexist, racist or otherwise harmful language that once pervaded office life. Not surprisingly, increasing diversity in-house results in more inclusive ads featuring a broad array of individuals.

Moving from Madison Avenue to Silicon Valley

Perhaps the biggest, most significant change is that “Madison Avenue” may be making a shift away from Madison Avenue. Here’s why: like New York City’s Broadway or Wall Street, Madison Avenue is a district we inextricably associate with the industry that occupied it. Madison Avenue garners its advertising reputation from the dearth of agencies that flourished there dating back to the 1920s. Thus, to refer to Madison Avenue was to refer to the American advertising industry as a whole. And in many ways, it still does.

Over the last two decades, the heart of the advertising industry began to shift to Silicon Valley, as digital advertising experiences explosive growth on rapidly evolving new platforms.

Technology giants Google and Facebook are upending the advertising industry by strategically leveraging their users’ personal data and purchasing history while also cultivating highly-targeted sponsored ads in response to user queries.

American advertising goes digital

Today, advertising has successfully made the leap to digital. The market reached $111.14 billion at the end of 2018 and is projected to account for 55.0% of total media ad spending in 2019. And we anticipate its growth trajectory will accelerate in the near future. That means the advertising industry is now truly bi-coastal, continuing its path on the West Coast — and specifically Silicon Valley — as it progresses.

To illuminate this transition, we’ve released our latest InfographicAmerican Advertising: From ‘Mad Men’ to Silicon Valley”. It chronicles the evolution of advertising. Further, it highlights some of the biggest changes the industry has undergone over the last six decades.

No doubt, advertising in the days of David Ogilvy and Bill Bernbach enjoys a storied past. But that story is far from over. The narrative continues to unfold as cutting-edge technologies enable advertisers to reach new audiences and break into new markets. Meanwhile, influencers and leaders from all walks of life innovate in ways that reshape and redefine the advertising industry. At QuanticMind, we’re picking up the torch and continuing to tell the story as well. And we look forward to the chapters that lie ahead.

American Advertising: From 'Mad Men' to Silicon Valley