Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mad Men

I always thought that someone should write a television show that was brutally honest about the world of advertising. I am going into my 7th year in the advertising business and it’s a very interesting genre of work to be in.

Thankfully, someone did have a decent idea and plot about an advertising show. Mad Men debuted last year on AMC and was an instant hit. The show is about to finish up its second season and it just won and Emmy for best Drama.

I have to say I think this is one of the smartest shows on the tube right now. The first season starts off in early 1960s and the second season is going through 1961. The cultural references are great and very interesting to see how advertising was working during the Kennedy/Nixon election, the concept of are condition in homes and the ground braking copy machine in the work place! It’s great to follow cultural events with advertising. They even mention Joan Crawford and how all men love Joan Crawford and how women were finding her unappealing to look at.

Above: The main characters in the drama series "Mad Men."

One of the things I noticed is that even though this drama is set in early 1960s advertising, it really isn’t far off from current day advertising – not in the way of technology – but in the male/female dynamics. For instance – the show is very male dominating with all men as creative leads and copyrights and the women are all secretaries. I work in an agency that has all male copywriters and one female junior creative out of a sea of men. Men excluding a few departments head most of the senior levels in the agency. Advertising is still a very male dominating business.

Another thing I love about the show, it is showing a female character named Peggy working her way up through the advertising chain. Peggy starts off as a piece of meat on the show – a women in a pool of secretaries that gets an "in" when she by chance happens to speak up, she made an opinion on a creative execution and then she is promoted to a female junior copywriter on the show – unheard of for that time period. I love that part of the show. You can go to school for year sand years and try to get into advertising – you may succeed - you may not. Advertising has noting to do with your educational background. It’s based on talent, forward creative thinking, drive, ambition and communication skills. You cannot teach anyone those things, they are all inherent traits we have – you’re either good at them or your not.

Above: John Hamm plays the secretive and handsome "Don Draper" on Mad Men.

I stumbled into advertising in 2002 working as a caterer for an ad agency in Boston. I didn’t know shit about advertising but I showed some skills – I feel my biggest skills are communication, ambition and drive. I’m pretty creative too, but that’s not where advertising took me. I got my foot in the door as a junior traffic manager and worked my way up to my current position as a project manager. Project management can be applied to more than just an ad agency but a variety of companies and varying project types.

Advertising is really the devil. I kind of like working for the devil.

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