As Marketers we often get asked questions like “Should I be using social media for my business?” or “How much does it cost to do a really cool ad in a magazine?” or “How can I get my business moving?” But another question that we often get asked is “Do you watch Mad Men?”. People are often very curious about this very talked-about TV show and whether or not it accurately depicts the marketing world. Sometimes people even want to know if we think they should be watching it.
First of all Mad Men is a great (and did we mention addicting?) TV series. The writing is great, the characters are dark and the scandal keeps us coming back for more. So, if you want to get into a new show, catch up on the old seasons first and then dive in!
As far as the show accurately depicting the world of advertising it can go both ways. The first season of the show is set in about 1960. This was an exciting time for the world of advertising and marketing. You will hear the characters on the show talk about certain advertising agencies and pioneers. Names like: Bernbach, Ogilvy and Leo Burnett are thrown around quite a bit. For marketing “geeks” like us, those names actually mean something. You see around this time was when the idea of a brand and branding your product was really starting to become the thing to do. This was when all of these large advertising agencies starting popping up and marketing starting really becoming an industry. (Especially with television becoming big.) Some of these agencies that they mention on the show not only really existed but they are actually still around today.
Another aspect to the show that is accurate is how an agency is set up. Don Draper is a Creative Director for Sterling Cooper on the show. That is an actual job title that someone would have today at an ad agency. Some of the other titles like Account Executive, Account Supervisor and Designer are all real jobs that someone would hold at an agency.
Something else that they do well on the show is portray the difficult job it can be to help a client find and market their brand. It wasn’t an easy task back then and it is certainly challenging now. But that’s why we have chosen to do what we do – when it all comes together, it is so rewarding!
Now when it comes to the (heavy) scotch drinking and the scandalous behavior that just makes for good TV watching. We can say that working in the world of marketing is just like working in any other industry except we seem to have a lot more people wearing Converse and horn-rimmed glasses to work than say people in Accounting.