Since 22-year-old Rachel joined the Electrum Marketing team, our lunch time banter often takes a turn down memory lane where I typically end up spouting some advertising folklore that sounds eerily like my father’s tales of walking through miles of snow just to get to school. I try and stop myself – realizing how ridiculous I must sound to her. But, I feel compelled to 1) inform her of just how easy she has it today and 2) to keep the romance of a bygone era alive.
She probably thinks I worked in some “Mad Men” 1960s-era agency environment and, although it was the 80s, I admit there were a lot of similarities. For instance, we all smoked at our desks and our kitchen had a bar so we could begin cocktailing after lunch. Afternoon creative meetings often went astray of their purpose but we refused to ebb our creative juices. We were artists. At 22, I felt like I was in the writers’ office of the Alan Brady Show (please say you remember the Dick Van Dyke show) where everyone jockeyed to be the most creative and have their ideas selected.
Concepts were mocked-up as marker (as in magic markers) comps and took days to prepare before we presented them to clients. If a concept was approved, a photo shoot was scheduled since there was no iStock. Copy had to be typed on a typewriter (gasp!) and delivered to the typesetter who re-typed it and created the actual type for the ad layout. The type then had to be picked-up and returned to the agency where it was cut and pasted onto the ad layout. If there was a typo or a font size needed to change…you went back to the typesetter. There was rarely client-approved copy since we did not have a fax machine so you had to hope they liked it or guess what….yes, back to the typesetter.
Radio and TV scripts were typed, read aloud and timed, and when you needed to edit or add copy to fit the time, the whole script had to be re-typed over and over until it was perfect. I remember having to type one script 23 times one afternoon…perhaps we should have postponed cocktail hour that day.
Media reps visited our office daily to woo our partners with free lunches, event tickets and even annual trips. In exchange, we would purchase their media on behalf of our clients at a 15% agency discount. What happened to that?
Today, as I sit at my desk, I give thanks that I have a fresh perspective to evaluate my experiences. Although I can appreciate how easy technology has made our jobs, I will forever cling to my fond memories of my start in advertising and I hope that young Rachel will have similar feelings one day. I glance up and see the ADDY awards I won my first year in the business and see the date. 1987! I call up front, “Hey Rachel, when were you born?”
Damn. I am officially old.