What we learned from Mad Men

Mad Men—Matt Weiner’s AMC paean to the lost world of the Man in the Grey Flannel Suit—will end in less than a week. Hard to believe for those of us in the business who’ve watched since 2007 and felt this was OUR show.

What started as a retro homage to ritualized workplace sexism, overflowing office drinks carts and the last-minute Creative Director presentation “save,” morphed into a deeply psychological exploration of what David Ogilvy called “suffer brilliance.” Don Draper is a cipher, a nimble and gifted wordsmith/visionary, and ultimately a vassal of emptiness.

Embracing both the show’s undeniable fun/cool factor and the more subterranean existential aspects, we share the things we learned and enjoyed over the past 8 years.

  1. Drinking and copywriting do not mix.
  2. Creative people can be complicated (stalkers, alcoholics, insecure, manic, childhood trauma survivors, or even—say, someone who accidentally killed his Commanding Officer and assumed his identity)
  3. The oldest guy in the agency usually controls the finances.
  4. Client presentations should always be a little piece of theatre, especially for broadcast concepts.
  5. It’s not really the kiss of death when a client says, “Do you have anything else?” at the end of the presentation.
  6. When it comes to accessing research, thank God for the Internet.
  7. Crazy personal lives tend to spill over onto your corner office leatherette couch.
  8. Everybody looked better dressed up. Agreed?
  9. Somebody at the agency needs to wear a bow tie.
  10. Kitchens look SOOOOO much better now.
  11. Pan Am. Just Pan Am.
  12. Self-loathing can result in wonderful explosions of creativity.
  13. It’s always best when a mother actually loves her children.
  14. Don’t be afraid to elevate a product’s features into poetry.
  15. Secrets aren’t good for your health, or your career.
  16. The right-brain-driven, procurement-designed RFP of today pretty much ensures that the least creative agency is chosen.
  17. New York. Just New York.
  18. Conference calling technology has come a long way, baby.
  19. Client product office demo bad idea: operating John Deere lawn mowing equipment close to junior account executive extremities.
  20. Beware a woman who shoots the neighbor’s pigeons.

What were your Lessons Learned from Mad Men?

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Direct Choice Inc. is a full-service direct marketing agency that has worked with national and regional brands in a wide variety of vertical markets. In addition to this blog, you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn


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