Principals With Principles

Hall of Fame Copywriter, Ed McCabe, is kindly answering questions about the ad industry, sent to The Times by fans of AMC’s hit show, Mad Men.

Question: What product or service are you most happy with being able to help and, conversely, which one are you sorry you helped? I do not mean which campaign are you happy about, but the product or service itself.
 — Posted by Tim W.
Answer: A very good question(s). I was particularly fortunate to have worked for highly principled entrepreneurs and then run my own companies with standards of integrity that seem unlikely and uncommon today.
We were very picky about which clients we’d take. We wanted good companies with good products and for them we’d do our best work. We often fired clients if they bullied our people or got in the way of our doing the best work we could. So I can honestly say I’m not ashamed of any work I ever did in advertising. Back then, as I said, the agency business was run by personalities and individuals who enforced ethical standards today’s holding companies are a little less personally passionate about. For example, I turned away many tobacco companies who wanted us to do their advertising. Didn’t make a lot of friends in that industry but slept well at night.

Sounds like real Mad Men–at least the ones McCabe knew and worked with–had quite a bit more integrity than their fictional counterparts.
[via The Escape Pod]



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.