June 4, 2013

[M]ad Men

Houstonian 1964 For those of us who watch the television series Mad Men, a fond idea of advertising during the mid-20th century can easily come to mind. From Don Draper's snazzy suits, to Roger Sterling's laid-back attitude, to Joan Holloway's seductive beauty, every aspect of New York City's thriving advertising industry in the 1960s is seen through the type of people who lived for it. Those who do not watch the show, the advertising business at this time (Post-WWII) began to expand rapidly due to the increased number of households acquiring televisions and also the ever-increasing rate of smoking, plus the fact that we just won a war (spoils?). The term "mad men" derived from the advertising suits (who worked on Madison Avenue) known as "ad men," adding the extra "m" as a joke due to their consistent, competitive, and crazed work ethic. Just like New York City at the time, Houston began its own take on the upcoming commercialism.

Houstonian 1964 During the 1960s, the city of Houston was bustling with new market ideas ranging from oil and natural gas technology to the promise of human exploration of the cosmos. With radio-television, magazine, newspaper, and billboard campaigns (thanks to the new "Interstate Highway System" of the 50s) taking off, the Houstonian "mad men" sought every angle and promotional idea to get their client's products known to the general populace. Advertising began to take part in people's daily lives from driving, relaxing at home (housewives were a major target), working, and even walking down the street (grant it you lived in the city).

Houstonian 1962 The counterculture played a role as companies started to look for more trendy and "groovy" feels to their campaigns which would reach a wide variety of people. Print advertisements of the 1960s often included artistic, abstract graphical designs similar to the popular art of the day (Andy Warhol anybody?). Television and radio advertisements included catchy slogans, jingles and sayings, designed to convey the business's message to consumers in a memorable way. Major corporations like Hughes Tool Company, Shell Oil Company, Cameron Iron Works Inc., Texas National Bank of Commerce, and numerous insurance companies began to put their name out in which striving business would soon follow.

Houstonian 1965 These images were all found in the "Advertising & Index" sections of the University of Houston's yearbooks, the Houstonian. The advertisement images pictured here range from 1962-1965 and were always included in the back of the yearbook (mainly for graduates to find jobs).

For more pictures, you can visit UH's Digital Library and look up the Houstonian yearbooks which can provide a broader insight on the era and history of Houston's business life.
Houstonian 1963

Houstonian 1964

Houstonian 1963

Houstonian 1965

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