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  • April 14, 2014

The "Mad Men" Sendoff: 5 Ways We Marketers Love You

It’s the Monday after the final season premiere of AMC's Mad Men (hangover much)? The show has been a critically acclaimed hit enjoyed by many for the last six years, but of course, the marketing crowd in particular, has gotten its kicks out of the content (and any all puns intended).

There are no show spoilers here, so if you haven’t hit up your DVR’s treasures just yet, you can keep reading…

Over those six seasons we have watched a story, its characters, and the contextual relevance of advertising evolve and blossom. The success of Mad Men is rooted in many attributes, mainly fantastic direction and storytelling courtesy of director Matthew Weiner, as well as a stellar, complex cast of characters. And let’s not forget the attention to details: The use of color, costume, and foreshadowing always has been artsy and apropos.

While the ‘Mad Men era’ isn't quite culturally the same today, we as an audience (and marketers) have enjoyed relating to the show’s characters, their struggles, and of course, their triumphs (because we all know there’s nothing quite sufficient enough to celebrate the feeling of winning that big account — well, other than a nice, neat glass of Scotch.)

We could go on about the details but instead we’ll aim to send off the final season of a TV favorite with some memorable moments and takeaways.

So here’s a list of 5 ways that the show Mad Men has not only inspired us, but taught us to be grateful for the technologies we have to make marketing that much better today.

It’s been real, Mad Men. Thanks for the memories.

  1. Hit more home runs, or hit lots of singles. Any way you spin it, both are good for business. In Mad Men we watched hot shot Don Draper and his partners consistently deliver the charm, wit (and stuff) necessary to deliver fresh, creative ideas to win their clients over. The marketing industry debates “home runs” over “singles” in campaign success, but there’s room for both in your mix.

  2. The C-level perspective isn’t always the best bet to bank. Its cultural era notwithstanding, the show has brilliantly profiled the come up of the underdog. Take Peggy Olson’s (Elisabeth Moss) character, for example: She worked her way up from a secretary to a copywriter. Someone who used to bring coffee to the table now has a seat at it! Many of Don Draper & Co.’s big wins were largely thanks to Peggy’s perspective — as a consumer and as a marketing professional. Who do you want on your team?

  3. Price, Product, and Promotion “ain’t all that”. The marketing mix has evolved so brilliant over time that this promising principle (worked into last night’s premiere episode script) can’t stand alone. Without any spoilers, we’ll just say, even a character client representing the marketing professional of the late 60s knew this! Whether you’re taking marketing matters in house, or to a SCP-esque agency, remember that smart marketing is a balance of art and science.

  4. To that end, be more concerned with the consumer than the campaign. The most celebratory creative moments and wins for Draper & Co. always referenced a consumer-driven success. Though Draper’s character complexity leaves him a tough nut to crack, his moments of genius are usually rooted and explained in personal flashbacks. It’s not just a matter of taking the product home to test drive and report. He always considered how to tie the creative story to human emotion.

  5. Shelf ideas — don’t let your team be overwhelmed by the “winning ring”. In the premiere episode, specifically, Peggy’s character notes just how many creative ideas she has delivered only to be rejected. Many marketing meeting rooms today embody the chaos and free brainstorm bonanzas captured on the show, and it’s true that ideas fly across the room. Just because some don’t make it to your final plan, keep them on the whiteboard for a rainy day (AKA your next quarterly program).


What’s your favorite marketing takeaway from watching Mad Men? Will you tune into the final season?


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