What’s All The Fuss About ‘Mad Men’?

Top US TV show Mad Men is back for a sixth season, the penultimate season (sob!)

If you’re not familiar with the show then you really are missingMad Men out on a treat! However, having said that, if you’re yet to watch it and have 6 seasons ahead of you then I’m very jealous indeed!

The show follows the exploits of Madison Avenue’s Sterling Cooper advertising agency. The show is set in the early 60’s and aside from the fashion and the dramas, it has been much-admired for making brilliant use of marketing strategies.

As much as marketing is changing and has already changed, we must remember that not everything is new, in fact quite the opposite really. Mad Men draws on marketing practices from over 50 years ago, and while the characters weren’t talking about email and twitter, there are undeniably marketing lessons within the show that are very much still relevant today.

Here are some of my favourite marketing lessons from the Sterling Cooper team:

Telling stories:

In the first episode of series 4, Peggy Olsen, copywriter at Sterling Cooper attempts to save the agencies Sugarberry Ham account. Peggy stages a publicity stunt and hires two actresses to go to a ‘grocery store’ and fight over the last Sugarberry ham.

In a nutshell, the actresses are arrested, newspapers publish the story and the agency keeps the account. Marketer’s today need to remember that consumers respond to real stories that involve brands and the only difference now is that we have another gazillion channels (including email) to amplify and publicise these stories through.

Get emotional:

Don Draper, the show’s protagonist is enlisted to help sell a slide projector.

As you can see from this video, his pitch doesn’t revolve around the technical features of the product. Instead, Don talks of nostalgia and a device that ‘isn’t a space ship, but a time machine that goes backwards and forwards and takes us to a place where we ache to go again’.

The marketing lesson here is that despite all of the technology that we have at our fingertips nowadays, it is emotion that often clinches a deal. As Marketers, we have to work to conjure emotions that connect and help consumers relate to a product or service.

The medium is The Message:

The philosopher Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase, “the medium is the message” that Sterling Cooper’s office manager Joan recites in this clip.

The phrase was originally applied to radio, TV, and print, but nowadays we have countless mediums. Regardless of what the medium is however, marketers must adapt their strategies to the preferences of people dependent on the devices they choose to consume our content on.

Are you a Mad Men fan? Have we missed one of your favourite marketing lessons from the show? Let us know in the comments section below…