The Original Mad Man

If Don Draper had kept a diary.

Scored a vintage book at a local antique mart.

The Diary of an Ad Man.
By James Webb Young. Originally Published
in 1944.

Can't help wonder if Matt Weiner (creator of Mad Men) drew any inspiration from these pages. Granted, this book is not oozing sex, sloshing booze, or billowing cigarette smoke, but it is written by an
"Ad Man" during the mid 20th century. And it's really good.

The book plays out as a one-a-day entry from June 1, 1942 - December 31, 1943. It covers a myriad of topics ranging from the war, the ad business, and personal interactions.

As a Mid Century Modern loving Ad Man (I work for Foundry Advertising), I devoured every entry as if it were a last meal.

Taste an excerpt from the entry dated October 2, 1942:

"Presented a new campaign to a client today and he didn't like it. He couldn't tell me why, but instead began trying to tell me how to make the ads over. This is one route to poor advertising."

Almost certain we've heard Don Draper utter near identical sentiments.

It has become impossible for me not to hear Jon Hamm's voice
as I read this book, even though it slightly pre-dates his character's
Ad Man lifestyle.

It appears first edition hardbacks pull some serious coin. Which happens to be exactly what I've got. Later printings can be had more reasonably. I think you should get a copy. Or you can read it for free online.

If all this has you craving a Mad Men fix, check out Mad Men Unbuttoned.





Daly Beauty said...

Love. This.

You are the Mid Century Modern Stuff Whisperer.

Mason said...

Nice score. Thought of you recently when I listened to the This American Life with a feature on legendary ad man Julian Koenig: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/383/Origin-Story

Check it.

Mary-Frances said...

Love this post - I went to the "read online" link and got hooked immediately. I wonder if I can find it in the local library (will let you know).
Awesome find and thanks a ton for sharing!
(ps, I was in advertising for years too, although female and years past Mad Men, it makes the show really interesting).

tula said...


J. Chris @ Just Modern said...

Great post! Great book...I am now going to search Amazon for it. Thanks - Chris