Mad Men’s Tips for the Modern Marketing Firm

By / Blog

When I tell people I work at a marketing agency, I’m always asked, “Is it anything like the show Mad Men?” No, we don’t start our mornings with a stiff drink. No, male chauvinism doesn’t run rampant throughout the office. Thankfully, agency life has come a long way in the past 50 years.
However, with the popular series coming to an end this Sunday {try to hold back your tears}, I’ve been thinking about all of the lessons I’ve learned from this fictitious, traditional advertising agency that apply to working in a modern marketing firm. Below are my top five takeaways from watching the past seven seasons of Mad Men.

  1. When a problem arises, think on your feet. It seems like not a day goes by that I don’t use this piece of advice. Being a problem solver means expecting the unexpected and thinking of creative solutions on the fly, because honestly- when does anything ever go exactly according to your original plan? This reminds me of the Mad Men episode when Don leaves Pete Kinsey to entertain clients and nab an account on his own. Definitely required some out-of-the-box thinking from Pete.
  1. Collaboration is key. Like in Mad Men, there isn’t a single person at an agency that can come up with an idea, pitch it to the client and sell it all on their own. The best part about working with a team of creatives is that we each have our own individual strengths that allow us to bring different perspectives to the table. This collaborative approach helps us avoid one-dimensional solutions and keeps our ideas fresh and well-rounded.
  1. Don’t get too attached to an idea. In an agency setting, an idea rarely goes from start to finish unscathed by criticism. Even before an idea is presented to a client for review, it goes through round after round of internal edits. This is crucial to make sure that an idea pitched to a client is up to an agency’s high standards and that all loose ends are tied up. Think Don Draper would ever let an idea that wasn’t fully fleshed out see the light of day?
  1. Never settle for anything less than your best. Clients don’t seek out an agency for tired, mediocre marketing ideas that have been done before; they expect ideas they’ve never thought of, and they expect it every time. Wringing your brain of its creative juices is a daily practice in the marketing world, and the moment you get comfortable and shift into autopilot, it is reflected in your work. My go-to method for always being on my creative game? Caffeine. Lots of it.
  1. And finally, there’s nothing a strong drink can’t fix. {Just kidding.} The scotch may flow like wine at Sterling Cooper & Partners, but that’s not they way it is in the real world of marketing {well, at least at MOD}. We do our fair share of popping bottles after a job well done, but we’ll leave the 9am Old Fashioneds to you, Don. Cheers to seven unforgettable seasons!

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