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Real Men and Women of Madison Avenue: Their Impact on American Culture

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June 24 through September 26, 2008

Program Locations:

Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL), Healy Hall

“Does She or Doesn’t She?” “Think Different.” “I Want My MTV.” “Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands.” “Just Do It.” “Got Milk?” “Where’s the Beef?” These slogans are part of the American zeitgeist, but little is known about many of the people who created them—the culturally astute men and women who tapped so successfully into their generations’ desires and fears. This first-of-its-kind exhibition, presented by The One Club and The New York Public Library, shows that the people who created some of the most famous advertisements of the 20th century were as colorful as their slogans—from former spy David Ogilvy to scrappy street fighter George Lois, to tough, hardworking women such as Mary Wells Lawrence, Phyllis Robinson, and Shirley Polykoff, who held their own in the famously male world of 1950s and 1960s Mad Ave. The exhibition highlights the lives and work of dozens of brilliant copywriters and art directors who helped shape American consumption and culture over the past 80 years. The Real Men and Women of Madison Avenue: Their Impact on American Culture features more than 200 advertisements, posters, books, TV commercials, and video and audio interviews that amount to a commercial history of 20th-century America. The majority of the men and women represented have been elected into The One Club’s Creative Hall of Fame.

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