PSFK Conference Speaker Interview: George Parker

PSFK Conference Speaker Interview: George Parker

'Confessions of a Mad Man' author George Parker brings the industry to its knees in his latest memoir and shares a few of his thoughts on how the ad world has changed over the years.

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 16 september 2011

George Parker, a true blue ad man, will be one of the speakers at our upcoming PSFK CONFERENCE SAN FRANCISCO 2011. George has spent more than thirty-five years working at major agencies such as Ogilvy, Y&R, Chiat Day, JWT, and many others. He has won countless industry awards, and his blog, AdScam, was named one of the four best ad blogs in the world by Campaign Magazine. In anticipation of his lunchtime, fireside chat on his recently published industry memoir, Confessions of a Mad Man, at the PSFK CONFERENCE SAN FRANCISCO 2011, we bring you some to-the-point insights from George:

What year was the most exciting year for you and your career? What happened?

 Tough question, as there were quite a few. The first in 1963, when I first arrived in the US as a snot-nosed student after crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Mary, to 1989, when in 3 months I made more money than most people make in a lifetime. But the best would have to be 1974 when I became ‘The Agency Fireman’ at a major London agency… Orgasmic detail will be spelled out.

What piece of advice would you give the young George Parker as he arrived in New York to launch his advertising career?

The one that was actually given to me by design legend, Lou Dorfsman, when he interviewed me… ‘Make sure you convince everyone that you have a bigger dick than they do.’ It worked.

In terms of creativity what has changed in the business?

Apart from my usual grumbles about holding companies and bean counter run BDAs, the biggest change in the last dozen years has been the obsession with the means of delivery, rather than the quality of the content being delivered. To paraphrase McLuhan, the medium is not the message… The message was, is, and always will be, the message.

Any agencies or ad-people of today that remind you of yesteryear?

Ouch, that’s a tough one… Are we talking about Mad-Man activities, like drinking, smoking and fucking? In that case, there’s just me left, and the last named activity is rapidly going downhill. The current agency closest to Mad Men days, would be McGarryBowen…The best BIG agencies around, Goodby… Wieden… The best up and coming shops… Droga 5, and Drake/Cooper.

Thanks, George!


George will be speaking at the PSFK CONFERENCE SAN FRANCISCO 2011. Come listen to like minds as they share their ideas to make things better on stage and off. Find out more about the full lineup of speakers at the PSFK CONFERENCE SAN FRANCISCO 2011 here.


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