Meet a Real-Life “Mad Men” Employee from Madison Avenue

Devonshire at PGA National resident, Lore Parker, worked at the ad agency widely considered as the model for the television series

(Palm Beach Gardens, Florida) – This Sunday, “Mad Men” fans may have something to look forward to though the series has come to an end.  The show has been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series, and many of its key actors and actresses are nominated for other awards.  It is believed by many that New York City’s Madison Avenue ad agency, Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB), was the model agency for the show.  Devonshire at PGA National resident and former DDB employee, Lore Parker, would agree.

Parker worked her way up from “copy cub,” (her reference to a junior copywriter), all the way  to associate creative director after nearly 30 years with DDB.  “When I first watched ‘Mad Men,’ I thought I was dreaming,” said Parker, citing many similarities to her own DDB memories.  Parker worked at DDB from the 1960s until 1985.

“It was such a wonderful family,” said Parker, who even wrote a memoir about her boss, co-founder Bill Bernbach, entitled “My Boss, My Hero”.  She noted that Bernbach said one not only had to be smart to work at DDB, but one also had to be nice.  “He was the most wonderful boss I’d ever had,” said Parker.

Prior to her employment at DDB, Parker worked at the BBC in England and came to New York City in 1945 after World War II. Originally born in Germany, she was a Jewish refugee who traveled to England and lived with three school teachers who taught her to speak English.  After arriving in New York, she went to an employment agency to look for work.  Given the option between a position at The New York Times for $21.50 per week or an ad agency at $28.50 per week, she chose the latter.  Parker then recalls immediately asking, “What’s an advertising agency?,” but accepted the challenge and was offered the job.  Many years later, Parker had a strong desire to work for DDB and landed her first job there in the 1960s, during the very time period in which “Mad Men” was based.  “I was thrilled about working for them,” said Parker.  “I loved advertising.”

Parker says she most relates with Peggy, the character played by Elisabeth Moss, who is also nominated for an Emmy this year.  “Like Peggy, I had started as a naïve, young secretary, hoping for a copywriting job,” said Parker.  However, Peggy’s private life did not mirror that of Parker’s happy marriage.

Parker moved to Devonshire at PGA National in 2006 and shortly thereafter, launched the resident memoir writing group.  In that group, she wrote 58 pieces, many of which are dedicated to her time with DDB.

About Devonshire at PGA National:  Devonshire at PGA National, one of 18 Erickson Living retirement communities, is located in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  Devonshire offers distinctive retirement living complete with spacious apartment homes, valet services and concierge support, premier dining venues, and convenient access to health services, all located just minutes from Southeast Florida’s best shopping, dining, and cultural activities. Additional information on Devonshire can be found at http://www.ericksonliving.com/devonshire/.

  Photo:  One of Parker's first ads at DDB.