What We’ve Learned from Mad Men

Mar 23, 2012 | Agency Updates

The Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning drama Mad Men is back with a two- hour season premiere this Sunday, March 25. We love this series about the “golden era” of our industry and often find ourselves asking WWDD? Here are some of our takeaways from Don Draper, et al. Take these with a grain of salt. And a slice of lime. And a shot of tequila.

Know Your Market Value and Seize the Opportunity

In Season 3, Episode 13, “Shut the Door. Have a Seat,” everyone at the Madison Avenue firm is hustling his or her real and perceived value in the market, knowing a potential end is near.  In his true Draper style, Don sees the opportunity through the chaos and quickly sells the partners on the idea that a secret mass exodus is the least risky of the options on the table. He even swallows a few jagged little pills to assemble all the right people for the dream team that would make up the new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

Gavin is a testament to the fact that even the Don Drapers of the world need the right people with the right talents to take on the competition when the opportunity arises.

Adapt to What Your Audience Wants

In Season 1, Episode 11, “Indian Summer,” Peggy is asked to evaluate the Electrosizer, a new weight-loss device that Sterling Cooper has been hired to market. When Peggy tests the contraption, a pink plastic belt shaped like panties and attached to a bulky control box by a mass of wires, she is surprised to find that the panties vibrate… making the Electrosizer’s appeal, ahem, something other than weight loss.

Ultimately, Peggy proposes that the product be renamed the Rejuvenator and marketed under the slogan, “You’ll Love the Way It Makes You Feel.”

Who are we to question what the audience wants? We’ve learned that being flexible when it comes to taking a brand or product to market leads to a much happier ending.

Sometimes You Need a Shill

In Season 4, Episode 1, “Public Relations,” Peggy and Pete come up with a harebrained scheme to pay a pair of older women to stage a fight over Sugarberry Ham in a grocery store. The publicity stunt works, and sales of ham increase after the story hits the news.

Whether it’s a ham fight or well-placed social media commentary, sometimes you have to be a bit of an instigator to get the word out. Of course, in Mad Men, the ladies did sue each other for assault so you may want to think twice about this one and proceed with caution…

Some Product Placements Hurt

In Season 3, Episode 6, “Office Hijinks Go Horribly Awry,” Ken just landed the John Deere account and the staff celebrates with a traditional cocktail and a test spin of the client’s products in the office—and why not, if you’ve got a tractor ten stories up in an skyscraper, who wouldn’t take a spin? Lois is all smiles as she rides around the office with a few cocktails in her system, until she runs over MacKendrick’s foot, turning a new client joyous atmosphere into a bizarre bloodbath of an episode.

You can’t ever shake that kind of error in judgment (or get that blood out of a Brooks Brothers’ suit).  Know when the product is right for the opportunity; every placement isn’t a win.

Take a Break From Your Desk

 In Season 4, Episode 9, “The Beautiful Girls,” Don’s secretary, Miss Blankenship, drops dead at her desk.

Don’t be that person who drops dead at their desk. Take a break every once in awhile.

And one from Sally (our dog, not Draper)…

Don’t be Afraid to Voice Your Opinion in the Office

In Season 4, Episode 7, “The Suitcase,” Peggy stumbles upon former (disgruntled) employee, Duck, squatting over a chair with pants lowered to “leave Draper a little present.”

Whether it’s barking at a visitor, dozing off during a brainstorming session or even “going” strategically on the carpet, sometimes you just have to get your message across to your team in order to clear the air and make sure everyone’s on the same page. We, of course, would not recommend actually “going” on your boss’s chair… or the carpet. Bad dog.

Enjoy the return of Mad Men this Sunday!