Don Draper, the main character on the hit TV show Mad Men, is said to have been inspired by a real Madison Avenue ad man: George Lois. Lois was a leader in the “Creative Revolution” in advertising during the 1950s, and became one of the most influential art directors in advertising history. His work helped make brands like Xerox, Lean Cuisine and Jiffy Lube famous. Lois is perhaps best known for creating iconic Esquire magazine covers, many of which now reside in the Museum of Modern Art.
Lois recently talked with NPR’s Renee Montagne about his work and his new book, Damn Good Advice. In the late ’50s, he worked at the Doyle Dane Bernbach agency, the first agency that matched great art direction with great writing, according to Lois. One ad that Lois is particularly fond of was one his colleagues created for the 1957 campaign for Levy’s Jewish Rye.