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Mad Man of B.C. Advertising – A Book Review

July 4, 2018

Portrait of an ad man shows chutzpah, ingenuity, and gutsy style

Robin Brunet, Let’s Get Frank: Canada’s Mad Man of Advertising(Madeira Park, B.C.: Douglas & McIntyre, 2018), 232 pages, $29.95.

Anyone who watched the award-winning TV series Mad Menwill be equally discomfited with the advertising industry as depicted in Let’s Get Frank, a biography of Vancouver advertising tycoon Frank Palmer. Perhaps tycoon is too strong a word. Brunet calls him a legend, another strong descriptive. Palmer, co-founder of Vancouver’s Palmer Jarvis ad agency, would like them both and based on Brunet’s portrait the descriptions at least partially fit.

Some readers will come away from Brunet’s book revering the ad man’s chutzpah, ingenuity, and gutsy style. Others will see an industry that a 2013 Esquire article described as being “more about interruption and intrusion than compelling narratives or a good laugh. We don’t add value. If anything, we often take it away.” Some readers might argue that this is not an apt description of Palmer’s career, but in the world of corporate advertising today the description seems to fit to a tee.


#332 Frank has still got game at 78

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