September 11, 2022

This past week I revisited a 10-minute speech that I gave in 2018…partially to reminisce what the world was like before the pandemic…and partially to reinforce what mastery really means (which was the theme of the speech).

(Check out the P.S. for another example of mastery)

The presentation was titled “6 Eternal Truths from 6 Dead Mad Men.”

Note that the term “Mad Men” is not intended to be derogatory…it’s a term that describes advertising executives who mostly worked on Madison Avenue in New York City in the 1960’s.

Those pioneers were eventually pushed aside by a new wave of pioneers, advertising men and women we now call direct marketers.

The transition was gradual… followed by an explosion…and it changed advertising and marketing forever.

And that was the reason for publishing my first book, The Advertising Solution, co-written with the amazing direct mail historian and marketer, Craig Simpson.

Among the “mad men” of the 60’s (and also some from previous decades), there was a select group of what I call “direct marketers trapped in general advertiser’s bodies.”

These were the anti-madmen (whether they knew what a “Mad Man” was or not).

Six of the maddest became legends in addition to being pioneers, beginning as early as the 1920’s and extending into the 1990’s.

They were the maddest because they refused to reduce themselves to the “general” advertising around them and it’s why they were chosen by Craig (and me) to be profiled in The Advertising Solution.

This 10 minute video (13 minutes with a short intro) is a presentation I originally delivered at the Genius Network Mastermind…and it has a permanent seat inside the I Love Marketing podcast series hosted by two of my good friends, heroes and superb marketers, Dean Jackson and Joe Polish.

Here’s some additional background on the book and the 10 Minute Talk:

If you are not familiar with the TV series Mad Men I definitely recommend a binge watch at some point…especially the first few seasons.

The show centers around the advertising industry of the 1960’s, which was as much about male chauvinism, chain smoking and three martini lunches as it was about the creation of memorable ads we still marvel at today (with only a hint that the direct marketing revolution was coming).

It was a colorful time filled with legendary advertisements and advertisers.

However, the work was more about “image” or “general” advertising (i.e., ads geared to brand building, publicity, public relations) as opposed to what we have come to know today as measurable and accountable direct response marketing.

There were no websites or URLs on these ads…and not much in the way of phone numbers either.

The toll-free number wasn’t actually invented until 1967. 🙂

But if you were practicing (or even dabbling) in direct response at the time (when it didn’t have a “label” yet), you were ahead of your time.

You could add a coupon, a “toll” phone number (paid by the prospective buyer) …or some call to action (when there were very few around) to attempt to measure the effectiveness of these ads.

Note: In the P.S. I will tell you about a collection of over 300 classic ads from this period…and in spite of the fact that most do not conform to today’s (high) direct marketing standards, there are bedrock lessons from analyzing them just the same.

In the video I share one eternal truth of direct response advertising from each of the six legends (unfortunately none are still with us but they live on forever through their work and writing) …and there is even a seventh “bonus truth” which I was able to squeeze in under the 10-minute mark. 🙂

Maybe you’ve heard them all before; maybe you haven’t.

Note: They have many other pearls of wisdom to share besides these seven…trust me on that.

Please click here to buy The Advertising Solution to get ALL of those pearls…plus many other bonuses.

I hope something in this talk resonates with you…and your feedback is welcome (and encouraged).

These Mad Men saw the future before anyone else did…and rather than be dismissed as old news or pioneers of the past, they evolved to become even more iconic pioneers for the future.

They dedicated their skills and craft to measurability and accountability with their advertising rather than staying trapped inside the world of general, non-measurable, advertising.

All I can say is thank goodness for these six gentlemen…and their students.

I believe everyone in my online family qualifies as a student of direct response marketing because you subscribe to this blog…and if for some reason you don’t (yet), my work is not done…and it’s time to study a bit more…and you can begin by watching this presentation.

Fundamental marketing principles haven’t changed much over the past four years…or the past forty…or the past four hundred…because they are based on human behavior…and humans are pretty much the same now as they were then (although now they all have smartphones). 🙂

Despite what you hear from successful, boastful marketers—e.g, “friendly funnelers” or “pandemic pivoters”–the best-in-class funnel experts, pivot-conscious marketers (and all marketers for that matter) should readily admit they innovated (and invented) their funnels, pivots (or anything) based on the fundamentals of human behavior (through audience, offer and message).

For that I applaud them.

That’s why they are best-in-class.

I also understand that there is now an infinite amount of technology powering and accelerating buying behavior in the marketplace today.

But the basic behaviors of what makes humans tick has not changed.

My questions for you once you watch these eternal truths from these legendary mad men:

Are there any of these eternal truths you would like to debunk?

Or any you think are obsolete?

Email me if you would like to debate.

Hit the play button next to my face below to watch “6 Eternal Truths From 6 Dead Mad Men” (in less than 13 minutes):

I love my mad men… and I think you will too.



P.S. You may recall that several months back I mentioned that my marketing partner Chris Mason and I were putting the finishing touches on a study guide for Gene Schwartz’s classic Breakthrough Advertising.

At the time I asked you for your help coming up with a name.

We landed on Breakthrough Advertising Mastery.

Well, I’m pleased to tell you that Breakthrough Advertising Mastery will be coming out next month…and I am making it available to you for pre-order at a very special price for this week only.

Breakthrough Advertising Mastery is over 500 pages long and breaks down each chapter of Breakthrough Advertising into actionable steps that you can follow to implement Gene’s concepts into your business.

But that’s really just scratching the surface.

Inside this book/reference tool you’ll find:

  • “How-to” exercises for every chapter of Breakthrough Advertising…so you can implement its landmark concepts…and to quickly and efficiently find YOUR breakthrough inside your business
  • Custom worksheets for every exercise…that walk you through the concepts step-by-step…through a time-tested implementation process…worksheets you will use for the rest of your career
  • Access to a private online resource and training center with video tutorials, relevant swipe files, digital versions of the worksheets…and more
  • Over 300 classic ads that are mentioned in Breakthrough Advertising, printed in full color, neatly organized by chapter and page number, written in the “Mad Men” era but timeless in their lessons. Compiling these ads make Breakthrough Advertising Mastery a practical and useful “utility”…while making it a collector’s item at the same time.  

As someone who worked directly with Gene Schwartz, understood much of what made him tick, and read almost everything he ever wrote, he still remains a mystery to me in so many ways.

Especially when I read (and re-read) Breakthrough Advertising.

It’s no coincidence that Gene is one of the “6 Mad Men” profiled in The Advertising Solution and featured in the “10 Minute Talk” above.

He was profound with his copy and his thinking…and scary smart.

My curiosity about many of those mysteries I still have about this complex man was something I had in common with Chris…and because he wanted to begin to solve some of those mysteries, he began to study Gene at a much deeper level.

The result of all of that research led to the “Breakthrough Advertising Bootcamp”…we’ve held three already and the fourth is coming soon…stay tuned to this blog for that announcement.

During the bootcamps, we began to unravel much of what was in Gene’s head…with the help of hundreds of Gene Schwartz students on the same inquiry (and on the same Zoom screen)…which eventually led to this companion implementation guide.

Breakthrough Advertising Mastery…” BAM” for short…is Chris’s brainchild…which I wholeheartedly supported…and I am proud to put my name on it.

BAM is only available to owners of Breakthrough Advertising.

When we release it next month, it will be available for $99 plus shipping.

BUT, for this week only, if you would like to pre-order Breakthrough Advertising Mastery you can get everything above for only $49 plus shipping.

You can secure your copy right here!

Your copy will ship in late October and you will receive access to the training library at that time as well.

This is a special deal I’m only running through Sunday September 18.

And it’s only available to owners of Breakthrough Advertising.

You can get a sneak peek of BAM right here and secure your copy at a discounted price.

There’s also a short video of Chris walking you through what we’ve put together when you click on that link above…along with a sampling of the classic ads.

Remember…mastery is contagious. 🙂

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Title Goes Here

Get this Free E-Book

Use this bottom section to nudge your visitors.