Catch Up

Message on a bottle

“When you get to a certain age I have found it pays to move to a cartoon” so says my old friend Suzanne, a social media expert, who has inspired me to change my “gravatar”.

Thus I have now “madmenned” myself in honour of my favourite TV show Mad Men, the cannily accurate account of advertising in the 60’s. As I was flicking through the selection of “only female in the room” scenarios in which to place my new gravatar – boardroom presentation, client cocktail party, smoky bar with Don Draper, (see Palm Springs poolside in plaid pants and Bloody Mary below), I recalled the most “Mad Men” moment of my early advertising career:


The year was 1982. A mere 15 years after Mad Men, and if you take into account New Zealand’s cultural time lag, it may as well have been 1967. I was a 19 year old Junior Account Executive which meant I tagged along after my chain-smoking boss, more of a Bert Cooper than a Roger Sterling, and tried to figure out through the thick fog of cigarette smoke and advertising wank what the hell going on, and if I could contribute to the conversation without making a statement that drew attention to myself. (No wonder I was consistently tongue-tied). As one did in advertising back then, we took the client to a boozy lunch at a Chinese restaurant. He was a sweaty pig of a man (incidentally a doppelganger to the client Mad Men’s Joan slept her way  to the top with) and when my benevolent boss slipped out to the loo, Sweathog took the opportunity to draw a picture on a wine bottle label of two people having sex and spun it my way on the lazy susan. I was characteristically speechless and prayed to be instantly fast-forwarded 30 years into the future when it would be merely a “charming anecdote”.

In case this recollection dredges up your own dossier of outrageous- scenarios-that-got-in-the-way, look on the bright side – be thankful that today our daughters would seamlessly move into solutions-mode should such an annoyance occur. While my own spineless reaction was nervous laughter, today I am sure my 26 year old niece would use this as legal leverage to instantly remove the offender from her view, while my 16 year old daughter would no doubt instagram, tweet, Facebook and blog the whole episode before he could say lychees and ice-cream, keeping him honest in a global exposè sort of way.

I wonder what my alternative reality would be today if 30 years ago with nothing to lose, I took the risks that I do now, and spun the bottle back to him with a simple message – “go f*@k yourself”.

Retouching your self-image through photoshop no longer cutting it? Try cartoons:

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