Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mad Men - Unbuttoned

Mad Men Unbuttoned is, according to the publisher,  "a reader's companion to the show, a discursive look at American history during the mid century, and tasty eye candy." But that description doesn't really cut it. I'll try to do you one better.

The book is by journalist and advertising fan Natasha Vargas-Cooper, formerly the main voice behind Public School Intelligentsia, one of my favorite blogs before it was put out to pasture. She has written for Gawker and Huffington Post, among other publications, and is now a frequent contributor to The Awl. She is also, and this is putting it mildly, a serious student of Mad Men. Better yet, she is the professor of Mad Men. This book should be a textbook in advertising schools, but even for a casual fan of the show, it's a thoughtful journey into the transformative era in which the show takes place, covering everything from decor to literature, politics to sex. As an example of the depth of NVC's research (and an example of her out-of-control obsession with the show), she has an entry in here on what drives Sally Draper's grade school teacher to be such an idealist and why she bothers to attempt to get to the bottom of Sally's "acting out," citing books of the era that influenced young teachers. She even explains why Bert Cooper's office is decorated in an Asian theme. I just thought he was an eccentric old coot. After reading just a few entries, you get a better sense of how carefully crafted Mad Men is, revealing layers of the show that might otherwise appear superficial.

But what book about Mad Men would be complete without full-page color ads from the era, and bunches of them? It is also a history of the theories of advertising, and of the ad giants behind those theories, from Burnett to Ogilvy. I was honored to have been asked to write a short essay about a Bernie Fuchs illustration for the book. I got my galley in the mail yesterday. I'm looking forward to reading what @natashavc has put together. I just started it and have already come across a quote from the man behind Copyranter and an essay by Tim Siedell, better known as Bad Banana.

If you like the show, pre-order the book. If you know a fan of the show, buy it for them. If you teach advertising, make all of your students read it. In the author's words, it is for Mad Men fans, design junkies, history buffs and pop-culture enthusiasts. I'm sure you fall into at least one of those categories.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home