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 of generations past, 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.
But while hit TV shows like Matthew Weiner’s “Mad Men” looked at this era through the technicolor lens of nostalgia, the evolution of advertising has unfolded with more positives than negatives, and its trajectory continues to go up and to the right. Women now comprise around half of advertising agency staffs, 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 has helped facilitate a more tolerant work environment that embraces different cultures, races, nationalities, sexual orientations, and beliefs, with less tolerance for sexist, racist or otherwise harmful language that once pervaded office life. Not surprisingly, then, that increased diversity in-house is also mirrored in more inclusive ads that feature a broad array of individuals of all colors, shapes, sizes and ethnic and religious backgrounds.
But perhaps the biggest and most significant change is that “Madison Avenue” may, in fact, 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 inextricably associated with the industry that occupied it — advertising — garnering its reputation from the dearth of agencies that emerged and flourished there dating back to the 1920s. Thus, to refer to Madison Avenue was to refer to the advertising industry as a whole. And in many ways, it still does.
But over the last two decades, the heart of the advertising industry began to shift to Silicon Valley, as digital advertising experienced explosive growth on rapidly evolving new platforms.
Technology giants Google and Facebook have upended 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.
Today, advertising has successfully made the leap to digital, a market that reached $111.14 billion at the end of last year and is projected to account for 55.0% of total media ad spending in 2019, according to eMarketer. And its growth trajectory is only anticipated to accelerate in the near future. That means the advertising industry is now truly bi-coastal, continuing its path on the West Coast — and more specifically Silicon Valley — as it progresses.
To illuminate this transition, we’ve released our latest Infographic “American Advertising: From ‘Mad Men’ to Silicon Valley” that chronicles the evolution of advertising, and 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 it own storied past. But that story is far from over. The narrative continues to unfold as cutting-edge technologies are developed that enable advertisers to reach new audiences and break into new markets, while influencers and leaders from all walks of life innovate in ways that reshape and redefine the 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.