If TV and film is to be believed, you can lift the lid on just about any advertising agency, and you’ll find a suave, poetry-spouting Creative Director, married to an impossibly stunning model but having affairs with several secretaries. He rolls into work a little after ten, hair gleaming with Brylcreem, having spent the previous night sipping Martinis in exclusive clubs, scribbling ad ideas and women’s phone numbers onto cocktail napkins.

No wonder I couldn’t wait to get into advertising when I left school in the early 1970s. And when I landed a job as a copywriter for an agency in Leeds, I felt sure that my life from that moment on would be one of glamour and excitement. After all, this was the golden age of British advertising. And it really was. Just not in the provinces.

The only time these men ever got mad was when the sandwich shop forgot to put HP sauce in their chip butties. Cocktails in West Yorkshire? You’d probably get beaten up just for asking. And when the Creative Director rolled in after ten, it was only because his useless car, the one he was forced to drive because the manufacturers were a client of the agency, had broken down yet again and he’d had to walk the rest of the way.

This was the flipside to Madison Avenue’s “mad men.” This was the world of the Sad Men. A world of small space ads in local papers, fifteen second radio spots and leaflets for all those unmissable, incredible, hurry, hurry, hurry sales events. 

This website is for readers of Sad Men and is designed to give added content – a bit like extras on a DVD. On it, you’ll find interviews with people from the book and photos of the way they used to look, news and reviews, ads that didn’t make it onto the pages and clips of commercials that did, thoughts on the publishing process and even the odd story that didn’t make the final cut.


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