Meet The REAL Mad Men Of NYC

We watch (and are #obsessed) with Mad Men for many reasons: The clothing (which got us thinking, "Hey, I wouldn't look so bad in a long, pleated skirt!"), the makeup (which started our bold-brow kick), the gripping dialogue (which gave us, "That's life…one minute you're on top of the world, the next minute some secretary is running you over with a lawn mower."), and of course, Jon Hamm (the gift that keeps on giving). So, as we began to psych ourselves up for this Sunday's season five premiere, we started to think about all of the Sterlings, Coopers, Drapers, and Pryces (and Peggys and Campbells and Joans) in our midst.
Naturally, we answered our curiosity with exclusive photo shoots and interviews with some of the top ad execs in Manhattan. And though you may not know David Droga, Ian Reichenthal, Scott Vitrone, and Neal Arthur's faces as well as you now know January Jones' mug, you're definitely familiar with their work. These are the creative geniuses behind the commercials you don't fast-forward, whose print ads are so pretty you use them as wallpaper. Sure, they may not knock back quite as many Old-Fashioneds as the guys on TV, but they've still got plot lines stories for ages.
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Meeting the men behind the legends? Priceless… Click through to get to know the real Mad Men of NYC.
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David Droga, Founder and Creative Chairman, Droga5

What is one ad man Mad Men myth you'd like to debunk? 
"Advertising isn't just drinking and entertaining clients. It's a tough, competitive industry, and it's increasingly hard to do great work that gets (and keeps) people's attention. We work really hard to make sure we're always one step ahead."

What is your greatest professional accomplishment? 
"Leaving the job everyone dreams of having to start the agency of my dreams."

Freeman's Sporting Club shirt, Levi's 514 jeans, vintage boots.

Photographed by Dan McMahon
2 of 39
What kinds of traditions or superstitions do you have in your office? 
"Every year, we host an agency Thanksgiving. Everyone is responsible for bringing a dish, and we spend a whole afternoon celebrating the year's work and giving thanks. We've done this since we opened in 2006, and it's a tradition we've kept going even as we've outgrown our kitchen table. We also celebrate Australia Day for completely selfish reasons."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
3 of 39
What are some exciting projects you've worked on recently?
 "We've been working with UNICEF on the Tap Project for the last six years, and every year, I get more excited about the work. There's nothing better than creativity for the greater good. We launched the 2012 campaign this week to coincide with World Water Week (March 19 through 23), and thanks to our efforts, millions of dollars have been raised to help provide the world's children with clean drinking water."

Tell us about your physical office — what are the coolest parts?
  "The photos of my family are my prized possessions. Throughout our office, we have relics from past campaigns (a neon sign from a PUMA spot, a billiards table from our 'Decode Jay-Z with Bing' launch) that act as physical reminders of the hard work we do each day."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
4 of 39
What's your personal motto?
"Live up to your own expectations, and don't be a dick."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
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How would you describe Droga5 in just five words?
 "I'll do it in three: Creativity with purpose."

What's the craziest thing you've ever done for a client? 
"For our very first commercial, we hired a 747, painted it to look like Air Force One, and tried to keep it a secret."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
6 of 39
Do you watch Mad Men? If so, what are the similarities and differences between the industry now and then? 
"I do watch Mad Men. As someone who works in advertising, I like the fact that it draws attention to our industry, and people now talk about what we do. But it irks me a bit that it's very much a rear-view mirror, looking back on the '50s and '60s as the glory days. I want today to be the glory days."

Burberry coat, Freeman's Sporting Club shirt, Levi's 514 jeans, vintage boots.

Photographed by Dan McMahon
7 of 39
What's your favorite ad of all time? Any favorite work currently out there?
"So many come to mind. Guinness’ 'Surfer.' PUMA’s 'After Hours Athlete,' Blackcurrent Tango. The original VW work from the Mad Men era. Some original Nike ads."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
8 of 39
Being named Agency Of The Year must have been great, what's something you hope to achieve in the next few years? 
"Grow without compromise and try to prove more and more that creativity is a problem-solver."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
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Kevin Egan, Senior Copywriter, Ammirati

What is one ad man myth from Mad Men you'd like to debunk?
"Don Draper gives women one mysterious look and they inevitably sleep with him. When I look, they tell me about work revisions."

How would you describe your company in just five words?
"Smart serial thinkers having fun."  

What would Refinery29's slogan be, if it were up to you?
"Let’s discuss fees."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
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10 of 39
What's the craziest thing you've ever done for a client?
"I had to meet a photographer in the backyard of a terrifying, drunken, unruly trailer park (I was not on the invite list) where a psychotic biker gang was throwing a violently uncontrollable bonfire made of who-knows-what with flames bursting more than 40 feet in the air, and super-sketch explosives blowing up as I entered. We only captured a few photos for our project before the mayhem was shutdown by an army from the fire department, and about 40 police cars that had the property surrounded. Aggressive chants belted out toward the police, bottles and objects were being thrown, a few barbaric beasts were arrested, and flashing police LED lights were pointed right in my face. I’ve never left a shoot faster in my life."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
11 of 39
What's the most annoying Mad Men comparison you get?
"Being compared to Don Draper."

What's the coolest one? 
"Being compared to Don Draper."

What are the real-life similarities that are still true about your industry today? 
"Long hours. Competitive new business. And tons of thick-framed glasses."

What's your personal mantra? 
“'Get more sleep.' And 'coif hair high.'"

Photographed by Dan McMahon
12 of 39
Tell us about your physical office. What are the coolest parts? What do you love most about the work environment? 
"When you’re working a lot of long hours, it can suck the life out of your soul when you’re trapped deep inside the interior walls of an agency with no access to light or life on the outside. Ammirati has an open floor plan, clean design, and tons of windows. Good taste in music playing on the overhead speakers and a new kegerator are always nice additions, as well. But ultimately, it’s the people here that make this place so great."

Favorite ad campaign of all time? 
"I grew up in Ohio playing a lot of sports and watching a lot of sports, so I’ve always been a fan of the 'This is Sportscenter' work. I also never looked away from those old 'The High Life Man' spots from Wieden. But I’d say the old VW work had the greatest impact on shifting the way agencies approached creative."

Any favorite work currently out there?
"I will first and foremost shamelessly plug our own agency without hesitation, because I’m closest to the work that’s going on over here at Ammirati, and I know our teams are developing some great work. So, stay tuned for that. But outside of these walls, there are a handful of agencies creating some excellent work for their clients, most notably of late, the stuff from BFG9000 for Kayak. It’s always inspiring to see other shops pushing the originality and effectiveness of creative work."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
13 of 39
What kinds of traditions or superstitions do you have in your office?
"New Ammirati traditions are always being made, but a few come to mind right away. There’s the 'lean back,' which typically follows big meetings. You have to get your lean on by tossing your head back, and waiting for a shot. This rowdy bunch will booze it up. The other is the 'matching portrait.' Every single day in our office, two people inadvertently dress incredibly alike (on accident). They are shamed and celebrated at the same time by having to pose for a matching photo that goes up on our website. My personal favorite is 'almond time,' though. My partner Conor Hagan and I will initiate almond time throughout the day — whenever, wherever. Just two dudes, tossing back almonds."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
14 of 39
What's the campaign you've worked on that you're most proud of? 
"A producer and my partner and I just returned from an interesting grassroots experiment down at the SXSW Music Fest on behalf of our Cutty Sark whisky client. We collaborated with a wild photographer named Ben Rayner and some talented musicians down there (that offered us some generous access). I can easily say that rockstar life is considerably cooler than Mad Men life. The project is going really well, and we’re excited to keep it moving."

What's the dream work outfit look like for you?  
  "Anything classic and simple is good for me, so any combination of something from Gant Rugger, Saturdays Surf, or J.Crew sounds up my alley. Nothing compares to the great duds those Mad Men gents were wearing, though. I just can’t imagine having to fight off the floods of sweat though. You know Draper’s a soggy mess under those sharp threads."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
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Pernilla Ammann, Chief Operating Officer, Mother New York

What is one ad myth from Mad Men you'd like to debunk?
"Women are just as creative as men and always have been. Every woman is free to be a Peggy these days."

What's your personal mantra?
"No guts, no glory."

Helmut Lang jacket, Stella McCartney trousers, 3.1 Phillip Lim camisole, Tabitha Simmons shoes, Efva Attling jewelry.

Photographed by Dan McMahon
16 of 39
What's the most annoying Mad Men comparison you get?
"People assume that because I work in advertising, cocktails are included in our office supplies. But the truth is, you are more likely to find people sipping on a Joule Cleanse juice than an Old-Fashioned nowadays."

What's the coolest one?
"Mad Men brings glamour back and makes our world intriguing again. People care about where we dine, the style of our suits, and the contents of our bottom drawer."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
17 of 39
Favorite ad campaign of all time?
"I am incredibly proud of what we did for Target at The Standard Hotel. We had one chance and we nailed it. It was wonderful to see!"

What's the campaign you've worked on that you're most proud of?
"The upcoming campaign for RIF (Reading is Fundamental) is set to launch in mid-April. Their goal is to provide books to underprivileged children. It’s such a remarkable thing to be part of; It’s not just about selling something, it’s about education and bettering the world."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
18 of 39
What kinds of traditions or superstitions do you have in your office?
"We make sure to only do work that would make our mothers proud."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
19 of 39
Any favorite work currently out there?
"Dollarshaveclub.com’s 'Our Blades Are F***ing Great' campaign made me laugh out loud. Wonderfully low-fi. Truthfully, though, I find men with beards very attractive."

How would you describe your company in just five words?
"Mother never waivers from its three core principles: Do great work, have fun, and make a living. So, in five words, that would be: Great work, have fun, living!"

What's the craziest thing you've ever done for a client?
"Post bail."

Helmut Lang jacket, Stella McCartney trousers, 3.1 Phillip Lim camisole, Tabitha Simmons shoes, Efva Attling jewelry.

Photographed by Dan McMahon
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20 of 39
Tell us about your physical office. What are the coolest parts? What do you love most about the work environment?
"One of the coolest things about Mother is that we change seats every few weeks. Creatives, strategists, partners, mothers....everyone is mixed together and gets a chance to interact with one another, share ideas and provide inspiration. There are no corner offices, no walls of separation; We’re all at one table, which has now grown to be many tables as we continue to expand. Also, I love the versatility of the House of Mother. We can create virtually anything here. We are at our happiest when we are making things."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
21 of 39
What's the most outrageous thing that's ever happened in your office?
"We kept the doors open late one night to throw an Internet Week after-party that was not to be missed. YouTube invited Eclectic Method to kick off the evening, then Das Racist and Big Freedia brought down the house with wild, booty-shaking performances."

Is there really as much wining and dining in the industry as TV leads us to believe?
"Oh, yeah. Especially with our whiskey brand, White Pike, now in the picture."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
22 of 39
Where do you look for inspiration?
"Unlike Don, who gets inspired by the sight of a new secretary, I get most of my inspiration outdoors. So, whenever I can, I head east to the beach with my husband and our two kids. Riding my horse Hannibal makes me really happy, as well."

Helmut Lang jacket, Stella McCartney trousers, 3.1 Phillip Lim camisole, Tabitha Simmons shoes, Efva Attling jewelry.

Photographed by Dan McMahon
23 of 39
Scott Vitrone, Executive Creative Director
Neal Arthur, Managing Director
Ian Reichenthal, Executive Creative Director
Wieden+Kennedy New York


How would you describe your company in just five words?
Neal: "Chaos. Mostly the good kind."

What would Refinery29's tagline or slogan be, if it were up to you?
Scott: "Funny you should ask. We’re in the process of developing proprietary software here at W+K where you plug in the product name, the target, and a few other pieces of information, and it automatically generates a tagline. Your computer-generated tagline is: 'Refinery29. Motherfashion information blower.'"

Photographed by Dan McMahon
24 of 39
Where do you look for inspiration?
Scott: "I can’t say that I go out looking for inspiration. I think it’s just something that happens to everyone, in one form or another."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
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25 of 39
Tell us about your physical office. What are the coolest parts? What do you love most about the work environment? 
Ian: "We’re in the process of renovating our space, and one of our floors is completely empty. That’s my favorite space in the building because people have taken it over and reinvented it in so many different ways."

  What kinds of traditions or superstitions do you have in your office?
Scott: "Founder’s Day: Wieden + Kennedy’s annual day-long anniversary party."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
26 of 39
What's the campaign you've worked on that you're most proud of? 
Ian and Scott: "Skittles. We created the campaign in 2004, and for the next four years, had about as much fun as you can have in advertising. It was really successful for Skittles, and it’s still running:   Beard, Trade, Leak, Touch

"Some recent W+K work that we're also really proud of:
ESPN — Shake On It'  
Jordan — Melo M8 launch   
Heineken Light — Occasionally Perfect Billboard"

Photographed by Dan McMahon
27 of 39
What are the real-life similarities that are still true about your office and industry today? 
Ian: "Advertising today, for me, is exactly like Mad Men, except for the smoking, drinking, infidelity, professional dressing, and being good-looking."

  What's the most outrageous thing that's ever happened in your office?
Ian: "If you mean like that Mad Men scene where a drunk guy gets on a riding mower and chops someone’s foot off — nothing like that. We’ve definitely been drunk enough for that to happen, we just don’t have a mower."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
28 of 39
What is one ad man myth from Mad Men you'd like to debunk?  
Ian: "One myth we’d like to debunk: Not every advertising executive steals the identity of their dead platoon-mate, moves in with their wife, and takes over their name and life. In fact, of the three of us, only Neal has done that."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
29 of 39
Any favorite work currently out there?
Neal: "Uniqlo. They’re a really modern brand who consistently surprise us. They do stuff that’s interesting, instead of just making ads."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
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30 of 39
What's your personal mantra? 
Neal: “'Walk in stupid every day.' It’s not our personal mantra — it’s a Wieden + Kennedy mantra. But it’s one that we think about a lot."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
31 of 39
Is there really as much wining and dining in the industry as TV leads us to believe?
Scott: "No. And it’s really sad."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
32 of 39
Mark Schwatka, Executive VP, Executive Creative Director, Grey

What is one ad myth from Mad Men you'd like to debunk?
"Like I try to explain to my wife every morning, NO ONE dresses up like that anymore!"

How would you describe your company in just five words?
"Famously effective since 1917."

What would Refinery29's slogan be, if it were up to you?
“Your Fashion Filter.”

Jeans from Levis, shirt from Armani.

Photographed by Dan McMahon
33 of 39
What's the campaign you've worked on that you're most proud of?
"A print ad for Prudential that had to be pulled because it generated four years’ worth of leads in the first month."

Any favorite work currently out there?
"The MLB Alec Baldwin/John Krasinski Yankees vs. RedSox spots."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
34 of 39
What's the craziest thing you've ever done for a client?
"A 10-hour flight to Prague to cover a pre-pro."

Is there really as much wining and dining in the industry as TV leads us to believe?
"Less dining, more whining."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
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35 of 39
What's your personal mantra?
"Effective advertising doesn’t come from understanding the agency business, it comes from understanding the client’s business."

Jeans from Levis, shirt from Armani.

Photographed by Dan McMahon
36 of 39
What's your funniest industry memory to date?
"A copywriter chasing his art director down the hallway with his phone receiver in his hand after the art director had severed the cord with a pair of scissors because the writer wouldn’t get off the phone."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
37 of 39
What's the most annoying Mad Men comparison you get?
"That all we do is just goof off and crack jokes all the time."

What's the coolest one?
"That all we do is just goof off and crack jokes all the time."

What are the real-life similarities that are still true about your office or industry today?
"The exquisite pas de deux between the account and creative departments."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
38 of 39
What kinds of traditions or superstitions do you have in your office?
"As Rosser Reeves once explained to a client who commented on all the empty offices upon arriving for a 9 a.m. meeting, 'My good man, a copywriter is not a dairy farmer.'"

What's the dream work outfit look like for you?
"Jeans, T-shirt, bare feet."

Photographed by Dan McMahon
39 of 39
Favorite ad campaign of all time?
"Like millions of people, I really enjoyed the way the Mastercard ‘priceless’ campaign evolved and played out."

Tell us about your physical office. What are the coolest parts? What do you love most about the work environment?
"The open space, shared energy, and free coffee!"

Photographed by Dan McMahon
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