What has changed since Mad Men?

Working in advertising in America i am sometimes asked if Mad Men is an accurate depiction of advertising. And i would say it is. why would it change? bricklayers lay bricks. ad people make ads. lots of superficial stuff has changed but the job remains the same.

I used to work for one of the guys who would soon become Don Drapers’ worst nightmare in the 1960s in New York: a creative nut who could both sell the shit out a product and do it in a way that made your head spin and register with the culture. The anti-Don.

Don Draper’s biggest weakness is that he’s a print guy not a TV guy. TV is about to become the overwhelmingly dominant medium. And Don’s generation listened to the radio and read LIFE magazine. He is so screwed.

Because TV, unlike the Internet, is actually hospitable to advertising. Advertising enjoys a symbiotic relationship with TV. They need us! They love us. And we love them!

And if Don’s agency is to become successful it has to be a TV agency. Can he do that? He’s old. so it probably won’t happen. But it could.

TV was still slowly evolving then.

It was print ads on TV. Just like the internet used to be TV ads on the internet. And kind of still is ;-)

3 responses to “What has changed since Mad Men?

  1. I know one thing that has changed. I have spent 17 years in the business and worked at 6 shops. None have ever had a receptionist that looked even remotely like Joan. ;-)

  2. I bet the creative side is much the same. Aside from the consolidation causing Stock Price and possibly thus reducing honesty with clients (don’t want to reduce billings if you can help it).

    But I bet the media buying process is nuts now with so many new channels, more people, more billboards, internet, mobile , social, etc making it harder to reach people. Back in Don’s day you could reach 30mil on a hit TV show easy (if not more). Now your lucky to hit 5-10mil for a hit show. And hope they don’t DVR.

  3. Yeah, media buying has changed. Back in Don’s day (when my dad was a media director at Burnett) the only thing that remotely resembled a “plan” was a flowchart… a glorified calendar. Strategy? Yeah… uh, now what is that again?

    My dad totally agrees on the drinking and the smoking. I have the Burnett matched ashtray/lighter/cigarette cup sets to back that up.

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