Maas, Jane. Mad Women.

Harper Collins Australia, $27.99

1 March 2012

Jane Maas, co-author of How to Advertise, wrote Adventures of an Advertising Woman three decades ago. Mad Women is her memoir of a 1960s advertising woman, again, repackaged for ‘Mad Men’ fans.

Television’s ‘Mad Men’ paints a decadent picture of Madison Avenue’s advertising men in the 1960s. Is all that bad behaviour – the chain smoking, heavy drinking and rampant sex – a faithful reproduction of what actually went on?Maassays “Yes, yes (but rarely before lunch), and emphatically yes!”

Maasis a feminist paradox. A rare woman to crack the era’s male dominion, she was no bra-burner.Maasreceived the National Organization for Women’s first ever NOW Award for “Most Obnoxious Commercial of the Year Depicting Women”. And she won it again, the next year.

Before advertising, Maas was Associate Producer for ‘Name That Tune’, until scandal revealed quiz shows were rigged and Congress ordered them off the air.Maas, keen for any career rather than staying at home, made speculative ads, took them to Ogilvy, and became a copywriter.

In ‘Women and Children Last’,Maasabruptly acknowledges her priorities in life were “job first, husband second, children third”. Fortunately for all, her family had “Mabel”, a Jamaican housekeeper who stayed with the family for 32 years, and whoMaasadmits is “as much a mother to Kate and Jenny as I am. Maybe more.”

Gawping wage gap between men and women aside, that was another unpriced cost of one woman’s career in the 1960s.

 Woman in a mad man’s world

Reviewed February 2012