The truth of Mad Men


"If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation." Don Draper, Mad Men

Having just completed the stirring second series of Mad Men, it set me thinking…

What would Don Draper be like in a 2010s PR or ad firm?  And although he may be at sea with the lack of drinking, smoking or sexism, I have no doubt he’d be worth his weight in gold.

Why?  Because he can do four of the most important things (in my mind) in the PR/Ad business.  That is:

1. He is a great storyteller.

2. He talks about individuals, not demographics.

3. Related to that, he believes in anecdotal research insights (not just stats).

4. He puts his heart into the products he is trying to sell; and where he can’t do that he delegates the work to someone that will.

But nothing is more important that the fact he can make his stories simple, concise and clear. This is what clients dig, and this is what the people he needs to engage about certain products dig too. Don would be great in this age of Web 2.0, where the personal, the sincere and the collaborative are what engage fans with brands. Simple, clear stories and conversation starters that work on a face-to-face level.

And as Don says:  “I sell products, not advertising”.  You could swap the word “advertising” in the quotation for PR or social media engagement etc . Great stories (and means of engagement) need to eventually create fans of your product to increase sales, not just sell the medium being used itself. 

Below the famous Don Draper advertising pitch for the Kodak Carousel:

Don Draper: Well, technology is a glittering lure. But, uh, there is the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash, if they have a sentimental bond with the product.

 My first job, I was in-house at a fur company, with this old-pro copywriter, a Greek named Teddy. Teddy told me the most important idea in advertising is new. Creates an itch. You simply put your product in there as a kind of calamine lotion.

 But he also talked about a deeper bond with the product. Nostalgia. It’s delicate, but potent. Sweetheart. (lights switch off) (changes slide)

 Teddy told me that in Greek, “nostalgia” literally means “the pain from an old wound”. (changes slide)

 It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. (changes slide)

 This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. (changes slide)

 It goes backwards, forwards, (changes slide) takes us to a place where we ache to go again. (changes slide)

 It’s not called the wheel. It’s called the carousel. (changes slide)

 It lets us travel the way a child travels. (changes slide)

 Round and around, and back home again. (changes slide)

 To a place where we know we are loved. (changes slide) (changes slide) (changes slide)


One thought on “The truth of Mad Men

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s