It’s quite easy to see how the world — and advertising — has changed since the 1960s. I myself am living proof. I am not your typical executive. I am a global citizen.
My full name is Gustavo Marcelo Martinez Garcia-Tuñon. My family is from Barcelona, Spain, but I was born in Argentina and have lived across the world. I am most comfortable speaking in Catalan, my mother tongue, but I also speak Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese and French. You would have been hard pressed to find a global CEO with my passport back then. "Mad Men" would have been more likely to show me pushing a broom in the break room.
The American public in the early 1960s was still largely xenophobic and had an advertising industry that was not just uninterested in interacting with other corners of the globe; it was averse to it. Remember when Roger Sterling refused to let Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce pursue the account for Japanese-owned Honda? Fools.
This deliberate evasion of global action, of global thinking, is reflected in the show during this period and is even more evident in its stereotypical characters.
In reality, J. Walter Thompson was quite global in the 1960’s. In fact, we launched the first transoceanic commercial telecast for Kraft in 1965. And our Mexico office had talent including the now famous Gabriel Garcia Marquez working in-house.
Today, we are as interested in the small start-up shop in Burma as we are in the shop on Madison Ave or in Brooklyn. Talent is coming from everywhere. Ideas are no longer exported from America and translated across geographies. And executives aren’t transplant expats who are sent in to "run a region and manage the locals."
We are seeing creative excellence emerge out of China, India, Brazil, Eastern Europe, South Africa and Romania,just to name a few. This groundswell isn’t limited to advertising. Significant contributions are being made in the visual arts, fashion, food and other realms.
Technology and social media have erased geographical boundaries, creating one massive global community that has forced advertisers to globalize to keep up with the demands of brands and their consumers. Consumers are in control now.
We aren’t doodling on napkins in bars (at least not as often). We are using complex data/analytics tools, forecasting trends, analyzing consumer insights and choosing from infinite media options. TV isn’t dead, it’s just not viewed on a television that much.
The debut of "Mad Men" gave the advertising industry a PR boost. The glamor, the sex, the grit, the fashion. It was entertaining. But I think today’s industry has more fire and passion because we are working on a 24/7 global stage, and you never know where the next big idea will arise. It certainly keeps me awake and inspires me to come to work every day.
Gustavo Martinez is global chief executive officer of the J. Walter Thompson Company.