From Mad Men era to ‘Got Milk’

By BenitaZepeda

Cutting-edge techniques and practices are often the pride of progressive arts and media schools such as Columbia. However, once in a while, looking at the past allows students to place emphasis on the future, and that is what “The Real Men and Women of Madison Avenue” exhibit provides for students.

Located on the first floor of the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building, the exhibit showcases more than 150 examples of print ads and television commercials from the past 80 years. Included with displays are descriptions of the people who created the ads. Some key figures in the advertising world, such as Mary Wells, David Ogilvy and Shirley Polykoff, are among those highlighted.

The exhibit started at The New York Public Library and was created by The One Club, an international, nonprofit organization that exists to champion and promote excellence in advertising and design in all its forms, according to their mission statement.

The One Club raised funds in conjunction with advertising agencies DDB Chicago and Leo Burnett, which helped override some of the shipping costs.

This is the first time the exhibit has been shown outside New York. Larry Minsky, faculty member in Marketing Communication and member of The One Club, said when he saw the exhibit in New York, he wanted to know how to get it in Chicago. He said it is scheduled to travel to San Francisco, Toronto and Tokyo after it leaves Chicago.

Minsky said although the exhibit isn’t directly in conjunction with a class, it serves as a platform for students to learn.

“It ties in with Columbia’s mission of Create Change because advertising affects culture just as culture affects advertising,” Minsky said. “So it makes sense for a lot of types of classes in both marketing and communication and in art and design on classes that teach advertising.”

The opening reception was held on April 7 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and the exhibit will continue through the month of April. Minsky said the reception was a great opportunity for students to network with professionals in the industry and a chance to see great historical work. He also said the relationship created with The One Club brings exposure to Columbia students.

“We’re a big player at Columbia in the Chicago advertising world, and I think this exhibit reinforces that,” Minksy said.

Shelby Jacobs, senior marketing and communications student and president of The Columbia College Marketing Association, said the opening reception was a great opportunity for students and that many professionals mingled with students, including founder of the Chicago Marathon and owner of Flair Communications, Lee Flaherty.

“It was really cool because one of the professionals that were there, his dad was actually on one of the exhibit walls,” Jacobs said. “How often do you get tomeet someone who’s dad is a legend in your department?”

According to Jacobs, who was responsible for marketing the reception, several students said they were excited to see advertising history all in one place.

Anthony Brooks, a 2008 Columbia alumnus, said he heard about the reception from a friend and was excited to see the exhibit because he is pursuing a career

in advertising.

“It’s pretty nice and cool,” Brooks said. “It’s always nice to look at some of the classics. Ogilvy is sharp as ever. There is a mellow crowd and I like the décor.”

Minsky said he thinks the exhibit is about the great leaders in advertising and hopes it will inspire students in their profession, in addition to using it as a teaching platform.

“In many ways, leaders inspire great leadership in others, and great advertising inspires the creation of great advertising in others,” Minsky said. “We want to use this to inspire our students and others to become the next leaders and to become great creators of advertising.”