Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

16 NOVEMBER, 2010

Sterling’s Gold: A Fictional Mad Men Memoir


Last month, we rejoiced in the news that Mad Men‘s Roger Sterling is publishing a fictional memoir to be sold on the very real Amazon — pure genius by AMC. Today, Sterling’s Gold: Wit and Wisdom of an Ad Man hits the virtual bookstore in a very non-virtual way. In 176 pages, the fictional Sterling keeps it real on everything from the business consequences of his divorce settlement to juicy details on his longtime affair with Joan Holloway.

Divided into chapters on women, clients, drinking and other essentials of the Mad Men lifestyle, the book is full of Sterlingisms, many of which remain surprisingly timeless truisms about life in the Madison world.

The day you sign a client is the day you start losing him.” ~ Roger Sterling

Even the Amazon product description is written in complete biographical seriousness, treating Sterling as an actual pioneer from the golden age of advertising.

Being with a client is like being in a marriage. Sometimes you get into it for the wrong reasons, and eventually they hit you in the face.” ~ Roger Sterling

Also abundant are the era-appropriate chauvinism’s we’ve come to expect and welcome with anthropological bemusement in the Mad Men universe.

When God closes a door, he opens a dress.” ~ Roger Sterling

Sterling’s Gold is without a doubt the most brilliant piece of cross-platform entertainment we’ve seen this year. What makes it all the more special is the stark contrast to the majority of try-hard transmedia storytelling efforts, which immediately jump to the flashy stuntsmanship of digital platforms. Yet here we have something as analog as it gets that adds a rich and engaging layer to some of our favorite “traditional” entertainment. Well played, AMC, well played.

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06 OCTOBER, 2010

Conversations with Mr. Lois


Legendary art director George Lois, an original Mad Man, came of age in the 1960’s, when his Esquire magazine covers revolutionized graphic design and shaped the aesthetic direction of magazine publishing for decades to come.

Conversations with Mr. Lois is a series of four short clips of Lois, charmingly profane and non-linear and curmudgeonly as ever, sharing his thoughts on everything from the moral state of advertising the essence of magazines to the sensual sterility of tablets. The series was timed around MoMA’s George Lois retrospective and the publication of the fantastic companion book earlier this year.

There are too many assholes in advertising now.” ~ George Lois

People say the magazine is dead — bullshit it’s dead!” ~ George Lois

When you read a magazine, you put it on your lap, it’s like a lap dance. [With tablets], you’re just looking at a screen.” ~ George Lois

Hat tip to the SPD filmmakers for using Cat Power’s “The Greatest” as the score for the final part of the series.

When you do a magazine with great content and real visual excitement — oh my God! — pages of it, or spreads of it, every week, every month — wow, that’s fun! Let’s do this, let’s do that — it’s terrific stuff. It’s stuff where you can really influence the culture. I don’t care what magazine you do, any kind of magazine [should be] a cultural provocateur.” ~ George Lois

The series was a teaser for an event where Wired creative director Scott Dadich sat down with Lois to talk about his iconic Esquire covers. You can watch the hour-long program below:

We highly recommend George Lois: The Esquire Covers, MoMA’s beautifully curated anthology of Lois’s most influential work. You may also enjoy our recent look at the evolution of magazines over the past century.

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03 SEPTEMBER, 2010

ThoughtBubbler: Visual Storytelling for What Matters


What a pig that can’t walk has to do with mental pollution and the DNA of kindness.

Last week, we looked at The Beast File‘s brilliant infographic storytelling.

Today, we turn to The Smart Bubble Society — a wonderful nonprofit motion-graphics studio promoting social justice, self-education and awareness about critical issues through stunningly animated motion-graphics shorts called Thought Bubbles.

As humanity progresses, cultural shifts affect our individual thought bubbles. These shifts change our primary sources of in formation and, today, we live in a world where entertainment and distraction have seduced us.”

Sample their brilliant brand of visual storytelling with these three Thought Bubbles by thinkers who peel away important layers of issues that matter.


Adbusters editor and activist Micah White takes a somewhat extreme but nonetheless thoughtful approach to an increasingly important issue in the information age: Just what are we filling our minds with?

Tragically, with the changing meaning of pollution, we’ve become increasingly concerned with the contamination of our external, natural environment, while ignoring the desecrations of our internal, mental environment.” ~ Micah White


A few months ago, the healthcare debate sparked some of the most heated, volatile conversations in American history, both around the oval table and the dinner party table. Here, John Greene‘s now (in)famous discussion of the American healthcare system comes to life in a visual narrative that only adds to its impact.

It’s the inefficiency of our socialized medicine that in the end makes healthcare so much more expensive than it is anywhere else in the world. Is healthcare a privilege or is it a right?” ~ John Green


Amy Krouse Rosenthal is part bestselling children’s book author, part modern philsopher. In this Thought Bubble, she touches on Western philosophy and Eastern spirituality, from market economies to Confucianism, making a compelling case for our inherent propensity for kindness.

At the end of life, at the end of YOUR life, what essence emerges? What have you filled the world with? In remembering you, what words will others choose?” ~ Amy Krouse Rosenthal

And for what it’s worth, we second Rosenthal’s heartfelt recommendation for Born to be Good — it’s truly one of the most important books you’ll ever read.

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