Saturday, December 27, 2014

David Murray’s “Raised by Mad Men”

Advertising experienced a creative revolution in the 1960s, and Thomas Murray and Carol Callaway was part of it.

Who was Thomas Murray? The man who first called orange juice “O.J.” for the Florida Citrus Commission. Who was Carol Callaway? The woman who joined Murray's ad agency and who brought a social conscience with her.

Among a lot of other things.

They met at the Campbell-Ewald advertising agency in Detroit. He was 44; she was 29. They eventually married and became the parents of David Murray, writer, author, editor of Vital Speeches of the Day and co-author of the moving memoir Tell My Sons. To recognize the role his parents played in American advertising, Murray had written a short e-book, Raised By Mad Men: The Son of a Real Life Advertising Mad Man (and Mad Woman) Reveals Who These People Really Were - and How they Raised Us All.

His father might have objected to being called a “Mad Man” – the reference to the hit television series “Mad Men” starring Jon Hamm as Don Draper. But as Murray points out, many elements of Draper’s fictional career could have been lifted from his father’s working life.

Written in journalistic style, Raised by Mad Men is a factual account of the careers of two people who made a large impact on advertising and popular culture. The writing style means it is less a memoir by the author and more a straightforward news feature account, which makes it less personal and more compelling.  

Their lives mattered, and their work mattered, and not only to Murray the son but also to Murray the writer. What they said in the ads they wrote and the campaigns they developed were important for a reason that seems almost quaint and old-fashioned today: “Words mattered to these people,” Murray says. It wasn’t only about image and “impressions,” that standard of advertising and marketing that rule so much of our current world.

Words mattered; language mattered. And Murray tells a short but powerful story about how and why that shaped his parents and, ultimately, himself.

Photograph: Actor David Naughton in a Dr. Pepper ad in the 1970s, who sang “I’m a pepper, he’s a pepper, she’s a pepper, we’re a pepper, wouldn’t you like to be a pepper, too?” The Dr. Pepper campaign was one of many developed by the Campbell-Ewald agency.

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