‘The Original Mad Man’ George Lois on the Art of the Sell

George Lois 1964 Courtesy of George Lois

The most remarkable thing about print advertising in the ’60s, when the fictitious Sterling Cooper ad agency of "Mad Men" is producing uninspired, lifeless advertising, is in fact how much the new advertising of that creative age broke with the past—a ferment that continued throughout the decade, making the ’60s a golden era of advertising.

Miss Clairol Hair Color Bath:
“Does she ... or doesn’t she?” Five words with a double entendre that proved American attitudes about sex had begun to change in the ’60s. A great copy line by Shirley Polykoff, alas, lacking the vision of a great art director.
Agency: Foote, Cone & Belding


No product, no ingredients, no diagrams, no body copy, no logo. Just a darkened bedroom with a sleepy couple being awakened by their coughing kid. Their prefeminist repartee (by Julian Koenig) and the startling graphics (which I designed) seemed to be the talk of the ad world.
Agency: Papert Koenig Lois


Coty Cremestick:
An advertisement I created spoofed instant glamour. Comedienne Alice Pearce demonstrated how Coty lipstick could turn any wallflower into a young, sensual Joey Heatherton. Also demonstrated in a TV commercial, Coty outsold all the other lipsticks at America’s department stores.
Agency: Lois Holland Callaway


Volkswagen Beetle:
"Think small" was the Big Idea that sold a Nazi car in a Jewish town in a New York nanosecond. Koenig's copy told the truth about a small car that got great gas mileage, and art director Helmut Krone showed a tiny Beetle in black and white.

Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach

lois-beetle-ad Courtesy of the Advertising Archives