Raising the Bar

Real 'Mad Men' grab a cultural moment … and run with it.

Betsy Alexander, CNBC

Each week CNBC's "Raising the Bar" series will provide insight into the minds of business leaders as they talk candidly in some of Manhattan's most interesting watering holes about everything from making mistakes to making it big.

"When this whole Deflategate was going on with Tom Brady … very cleverly we said, 'Hey, inflation, this is maybe something for (our client) Michelin.' " So explains one of the great (m)ad men of our time, Rob Schwartz, CEO of TBWA/Chiat/Day's flagship New York office.

"You know, suddenly a tire company can be in the conversation when you're not shopping for tires. So we did a little funny post about the Michelin man saying: 'Hey, inflation matters.' And the next thing you know, this thing's picked up by NBC, it's on the 'TODAY' show … from one little bit of listening, you start to do something incredible."

Real Life Mad Men: We need to be in the WOW business
Real Life Mad Men: We need to be in the WOW business
America is just poorly art directed
America is just poorly art directed
Millennials care in the moment, then they're gone
Millennials care in the moment, then they're gone
Advertising leaders: Failure is the first step
Advertising leaders: Failure is the first step

One recent afternoon at Charlie Palmer at The Knick in Times Square's historic Knickerbocker Hotel, Schwartz and former colleague Andy Spade got to talking about the past, present and (complicated) future of advertising. Spade, among other things, is founder of fashion labels Kate Spade and Jack Spade, and currently branding studio Partners & Spade. Between the two, they've created numerous memorable and multi award-winning campaigns for some of the biggest companies in the world, including: Target, J.Crew, McDonald's, Gatorade and Visa, among others.

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While still effective, the attention-grabbing 30-second television commercial is no longer the gold standard. Mobile platforms, cord cutting, binge-watching and YouTube, to name a few, have challenged advertising/branding professionals to, in Spade's words, "figure out how to use social media in a really interesting way."

And the pressure's on for the millennial generation, pro and amateur, as well. Schwartz: "What's interesting, there's a lot of pressure on millennials to produce for social media. You know, it's a self-fulfilling thing, where 'I've got to go to Coachella 'cause I need a photo of myself at Coachella … I need my selfie on my Facebook page, to show that I was there.' "

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Both use social media for other purposes, as well. "I've hired several photographers off of Instagram. I get inspiration for campaigns from it," says Spade. "There's an illustrator in Paris I found."

From famous to infamous, everyone who was anyone stayed or played at the legendary Knickerbocker, built in 1906 by John Jacob Astor IV. Mary Pickford, Enrico Caruso, Evelyn Nesbit (the Jennifer Lawrence, Justin Timberlake and GiGi Haddad of their day) among the glitterati who frequented the recently renovated hotel and bar, where, legend has it, the martini was invented in 1912 by the bartender, "a shadowy figure" supposedly named Martini di Arma di Taggia.

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Today, guests enjoy all the trappings of celebrity Chef Charlie Palmer's signature food, drink and hospitality. And the view from the rooftop is a New Year's Eve reveler's dream.


  • 2 oz. Tanqueray 10 Gin
  • .75 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth
  • .5 oz. Cocchi Torino Vermouth
  • 1 dash citrus bitters

In a mixing glass add ice, liquid, stir, strain, serve into martini glass a garnish with a lemon twist.


  • 2 oz. Ketel One Oranje
  • .75 oz. Licor 43
  • .75 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • .5 oz. cranberry juice
  • .25 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 pinch AC Black Pepper/Vanilla Flavor Enhancer
  • 1 pinch AC Cranberry Orange Flavor Enhancer

Put all ingredients into cocktail shaker, shake, strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a flamed orange disk.