Mad Ads: Mark Zapico Shares His Mod Faves

What makes the ads from the 1960s era of “Mad Men” so special? We asked Mark Zapico, chairman of the Advertising Department at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit to share his favorite ads from the 1960s.

Zapico knows something about graphics and advertising himself. Not only does he work at the College for Creative Studies, but he also is a creative consultant, product designer and accomplished painter. Before working at the college, Zapico spent 30 years in the advertising industry. He directed the art for a host of prominent campaigns, including Pontiac’s “We Build Excitement” campaign in the 1980s.

Here are Zapico’s favorite 1960s advertising selections:

“When Modern Midwest asked me to submit three ads from the ‘60s that I admired, I could have picked the usual suspects: the classic VW work, Levy’s, Alka Seltzer, etc. Rather than choosing these I wanted to share some work that embodied the risk-taking of the times and the characteristics that the best creatives have: curiosity and courage. These are characteristics that we teach from Jack Foster’s book “How to Get Ideas” and try to instill in each of our students.

Every art director worth his or her salt should study everything Helmut Krone touched. His courage to experiment with “the new page” and to defy clients who wanted the typical is legendary. His work changed the business. These ads for Scotts Lawn Products would still stand up today. (Unfortunately, with less copy though.)

Container Corp produced a series in the ‘50s called “Great Ideas of Western Man,” which continued into the ‘60s. This campaign and other amazing ads featured artwork by famous artists. The work from advertising agency N. W. Ayer put the word “art” into “art director.”

I must give a nod to Detroit advertising in the ‘60s. There’s no better example of the imagery, fantasy, James Bond-sy-ness of the time than the Pontiac ads illustrated by Fitz and Van (Van Kaufman and Art Fitzpatrick). When was the last time you wanted to frame a car ad? ‘Nuff said.”