The final episodes of “Mad Men” premiered last night on AMC, and we can’t wait to see how the series ends. We took a look back at some of our favorite moments from the past six and a half seasons (thanks, Netflix!) and compiled this list of six things from the show that still hold true in the advertising industry today.
- The art of the pitch is still imperative. Remember when Don Draper pitched the Kodak Carousel account at the end of Season 1? “This is not a spaceship; it’s a time machine,” he said. “It goes backwards and forwards, and it takes us to a place where we ache to go again.” He used photos of his own family and conveyed authentic emotion to bring home the message of nostalgia in one of the most memorable scenes of the season. Potent pitches are still important today. Whether it’s a new business meeting or sharing creative options with a long-time client—setting the scene, telling the story, and revealing the big idea are all essential elements of an effective presentation.
- Creative may be the lifeblood of advertising, but having a digital heart is also essential. In the first half of Season 7, SC&P brings in an IBM System/360 and the computer causes a disruption as it takes over the creative lounge. In today’s agency, creative—both digital and traditional—and strategy complement each other, and both are key to a successful campaign. The solutions we create for our clients are driven not only by a passion for bold creative work, but also by data and consumer insights.
- Strong relationships are vital to success. The “Mad Men” characters’ strongest relationships are often in the office rather than in their personal lives, and many a deal is cemented over dinner and drinks. Today’s technology lets us remain connected from anywhere, but taking the time to get to know someone in person is still important, and face-to-face meetings, lunches, and dinners are valuable in strengthening these relationships. The trust built among agency teams and with clients facilitates greater success for everyone.
- We go above and beyond to deliver results for our clients. How many episodes show Peggy Olson at the office on a Saturday? Some of us never stop working. When you’re immersed in a campaign, it can be difficult to stop generating and refining ideas, no matter where you are. Late nights and early mornings are part of the deal. And sometimes, like Don Draper sitting in a darkened movie theater, we really do get our best ideas when we’re away from the office.
- Branding is powerful. It’s in the work done for clients, from Playtex to Heinz Baked Beans to Burger Chef. It can be seen in each iteration of the agency—who can forget the turning point in Season 4 when Sterling Cooper Draper Price lost the Lucky Strike account and Don penned his “Why I’m Quitting Tobacco” manifesto in an effort to change the conversation? And it’s the essence of Don Draper himself as he struggles to maintain his invented identity. Creating successful brands is essential to “Mad Men,” and it’s still essential in advertising today. The modern agency not only helps create a logo, voice, messaging, and ad campaigns for each client—we create an emotional connection with each audience, as well.
- Agencies are swimming in alcohol. This one isn’t completely accurate—we’re definitely not indulging in three-martini lunches or breaking out the whiskey at 11 a.m.—but, well, we do have a beer fridge and bar in our office. Sometimes you just want a little something to get the creative juices flowing or celebrate a successful day.