Using "MAD MEN in the Classroom of Life"

MAD MEN deals with men and women in 1960’s advertising agencies (first it was Sterling Cooper, and then SCDP), back to Sterling Cooper on Madison Avenue. It includes the departments of Creative, Media, Account Management, Production, Personnel, Agency Management, plus client relationships and new business. And much, much more

In MAD MEN, they just had visuals and copy, print, radio and TV. In advertising, there has to be an idea. A BIG idea. A real message about the product or brand.

I speak as a senior advertising instructor, seasoned marketing pro, former account manager and client professional, with agencies reporting to me.

It’s been reported that enrollments in advertising related courses are up. In my classes for the past 35 years, I have waiting lists. Students have always been fascinated with marketing and advertising, and I prepare them for the “real-world” in whatever field they are going into. I had business, journalism, advertising, electronic games, marketing, cinematic arts, fine arts and other majors.

Agencies need employees with a much wider skill set today, than when MAD MEN was happening. These MAD MEN stories happened a lot in the ‘60s and ‘70s. By the way in the ‘80s and ‘90s advertising agencies stopped training people.

The Matthew Weiner-created series hit new media heights in its series finale on May 17, 2015. The heavily promoted Season 7 end of MAD MEN drew 3.3 million viewers and 1.4 million among adults 18-49 at 10 PM on that Sunday night, according to Nielsen.

I would love to see a Mad Men spin-off or a movie made exclusively for AMC, Netflix or someone else.

While never a ratings* blockbuster, MAD MEN was strong with affluent viewers and had a very big DVR numbers, high double-digit rises in Live + 3 and Live + 7 results were reported.

*I teach the term “rating” is the estimate of the size of a television audience relative to the total universe (of all TVs whether on or off), expressed as a percentage. The estimated percent of all TV households or persons tuned to a specific station. In an example, three of the 100 homes in the universe are tuned to channel 2. That translates to a 3 rating.

Old vs New or Today

  • Client needs an ad or an advertising campaign.
  • Advertising Agency prepares Creative Brief.
  • Account People, Creative Director, Art Director, Copywriter. Media Planner Supervisor and Media Buyer.
  • TV spot, Radio spot, Magazine/ Newspaper Ads, Out of Home (OOH), coupons.
  • No DVRs. No Ad Blockers.

New or Today

  • Agencies, Creative Boutiques, Media Buying Agencies, Digital Agencies.
  • Media Landscape is Diverse.
  • Broadcast, cable, streaming, online, tablet, smartphone, video, rich media, social media, branded content, banners, interstitials, apps, in-app advertising, sponsored content, interactive tech products, such as Sherwin-Williams’ Chip It! and Nike+Fuelband, smart watches.

Today what we have to train people for is so much wider, broader than it used to be. The majority of the advertising is no longer traditional media. In MAD MEN’s time it was TV, radio, print. The actual discipline of planning, thinking creatively and communicating with the target segments is the same. But now audiences are so fragmented. I still teach in the classroom and with my clients: “It’s only creative, if it sells.”

Now you take a clear message and use new technology to highlight that message. There are 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds who get hired now and may know more about technology and social media than almost anyone in the agency.

Don Draper Persona, or About Don Draper:

  • Played by Jon Hamm.
  • Signature Look: Always the right one for the occasion. And dressed for all occasions.
  • “Don Draper has earned a reputation as a peerless advertising copywriter, a decisive office leader and a debonair ladies’ man – not to mention an incorrigible alcoholic, an unrepentant adulterer, an inadequate parent and an identity thief.” (New York Times)
  • Personality: Creative, aloof, elusive, enigmatic.
  • The Secret: Well, his real name isn’t Don Draper. It’s Dick Whitman.
  • Donald Francis “Don” Draper celebrates his birthday as June 1, 1926; character’s given name is Richard “Dick” Whitman was probably born in December 1925 or January 1926.
  • “Every time we get a car, this place (advertising agency) turns into a whore house.”
  • Peggy: “That was very inspiring (Don). Do you have any idea what the idea is?”
  • Sylvia Rosen: “I need you (Don) and nothing else will do.”
  • Ted Chaough (former partner at Cutler Gleason and Chaough) mentions he should eat something, and cold Don says, “Doesn’t ice count?”
  • “Men are always between marriages,” said a resigned Joan.
  • Bert Cooper confronts him. “It’s amazing things are going well with how little you are doing.”
  • Don Draper’s Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail
    One of six basic cocktails and the drink of choice for Don Draper. The Old Fashioned is an International Bartenders’ Association official cocktail made by muddling dissolved sugar with bitters then adding alcohol, such as whiskey (Don used rye whiskey in an episode of Mad Men) or brandy, and a twist of citrus rind. It is traditionally served in a short, round, 8–12 US fl. oz. (240–350 ml) “Old Fashioned” glass, named after the drink.

    The Whiskey Old Fashioned recipe (a jigger is 1.5 US fl. oz./44 ml):
    1. Dissolve a small lump of sugar with a little water in a whiskey-glass
    2. Add two dashes Angostura bitters
    3. Add a small piece ice, or ice cubes
    4. Add a piece orange-peel
    5. Add one jigger whiskey
    6. Mix with small bar-spoon and serve

Jon Hamm and Mad Men at PaleyFest 2014

Inside Quotes of Don Draper, and from Mad Men:

  • Don said to Peggy: “You can’t tell people what they want. It has to be what you want.”
  • Don said to Peggy: “Coupons work.”
  • Rebecca Pryce said to Don: “Don’t leave here feeling that you’ve done anything for anyone except yourself.”
  • Pete: “If I’m going to die, I want to die in Manhattan.”
  • Megan: “This is the best place to be right now.”
  • Pete: “Not great, Bob (Benson).”
  • Joan: “I’m in charge of thinking of things before people know they need them.”
  • “I was raised in the ‘30s – I didn’t follow my dream. My dream was indoor plumbing.”
  • “Fear stimulates my imagination.”
  • “Do you want women who want bikinis to buy your two piece? Or do you just wanna make sure women who want a two piece don’t suddenly buy a bikini?”
  • “Advertising is based on one thing, happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay.”
  • “You are the product. You are feeling something. That’s what sells. Not them. Not sex. They can’t do what we do and they hate us for it.”
  • Selling and pitching ads for Kodak Carrousel: “This device isn’t a spaceship. It’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards…it takes us to a place where you ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carrousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we are loved.”
  • “Life is just a bowl of cereal.”
  • “Clients’ ideas should seem better than they usually do.”
  • Change is neither good nor bad, it simply is…if you don’t like what’s being said, Change the conversation.”
  • Rebecca Pryce said to Don: “Don’t leave here feeling that you’ve done anything for anyone except yourself.”

Trivia and Quiz

Click on any question for the answer.

Roger Sterling in the dedication of his book Sterling’s Gold, Wit & Wisdom of an Ad Man

Mad Men has seemingly percolated into every corner of the popular culture:
  • Sesame Street has created a MAD MEN parody.
  • The clothing retailer “Banana Republic” created a nationwide window display campaign, and offers a style guide.
  • The costume designer, Janie Bryant has collaborated with Nailtini on a MAD MEN–inspired line of nail polish colors.
  • Mattel has released dolls based on the show’s characters.
  • Brooks Brothers has produced a limited edition MAD MEN suit—which is, in turn, based on a Brooks Brothers design of the 1960s.

The series hit new media and audience heights or highs in its series finale on May 17, 2015. The heavily promoted Season 7 end drew 3.3 million viewers and 1.4 million among adults 18-49 at 10 PM on that Sunday night, according to Nielsen. While it was never a “ratings” blockbuster, MAD MEN was strong with affluent viewers and had very big DVR numbers, high double-digit rises in Live +3 and Live +7 results were reported.

An Evening with Matthew Weiner and AMC’s MAD MEN, part of USC’s CTCS-467: Television Symposium