Perhaps the biggest legacy of the TV show “Mad Men” was how it prodded numerous ad industry veterans to write their memoirs and tell their tales of a business that’s changed immensely over the decades. But if you’re thinking, “When is the accountant going to write his book,” here you go: David C. Wiener’s From Brighton Beach to Madison Avenue: The Real Business of Advertising is what you’ve been waiting for.
Wiener actually has a very storied place in the industry: He partnered with many legendary ad folks, most notably Jay Chiat. And as a consultant and adviser, he was responsible for making a number of deals that enabled ad firms including Goodby, Crispin, Deutsch, Kirshenbaum & others to get acquired by holding companies. (I should note I’m using their abbreviated nicknames, as those agencies have long since merged and remerged into a mess of initials.) Wiener made a lot of ad people very rich, and he’s not shy about bragging how they rewarded him in kind.
Ultimately though, From Brighton Beach to Madison Avenue is a bit of a jumble. The book shifts back-and-forth between David’s personal autobiography as a New York City borough kid, his industry anecdotes, a fair amount of name-dropping, and a guide to how ad industry mergers and acquisitions really work.
It’s that last part that I believe would be of most interest to ad folks who don’t know David Wiener personally. There are always startup agencies and tech-related marketing firms who seek to get bought up so the founders can cash out. And Wiener knows his way around M&As, so he dispenses a lot of valuable advice and insider knowledge about how these deals get made.
From Brighton Beach to Madison Avenue does have some amusing stories (who knew Jay Chiat almost invested some of his money with Bernie Madoff?) But as the title suggests, Wiener’s a little all over the place. It’s one of the quirkier books to add to your ad industry bookshelf. If Wiener were to share more of his sorely-needed financial knowledge he’d have a book many ad folks, especially creatives, would find truly helpful.
Special thanks to Smith Publicity for offering me a review copy.