Agency lessons from Mad Men Episode 303 “My Old Kentucky Home”

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In “My Old Kentucky Home,” some of the Sterling Cooper crew, mostly the account management side and of course Don Draper from creative, visit a garden party for the Kentucky Derby put on by agency partner Roger Sterling, while the rest of the creative team is working in the office over the weekend.

One of my favorite lines of the episode was delivered by Draper, when he arrived at the garden party that was taking place in an elaborate tent set upon an expansive lawn.  Pete Campbell, the manor-born but perpetually weak co-head of accounts, saunters up to Draper and trys to casually make it clear that he knows who’s who;

“That portly fellow in the Glen Plaid, second at DuPont. The one next to him, Pan Am.”

He delivers this line while Draper dismissively lights a cigarette.  Draper then pats him on the elbow and admonishes,”Don’t hand out your card,” as he walks away in search of better conversation.

This is an important lesson for people just getting started in business, and one that way too many people never learn.  Even if a social situation provides opportunities for a hard sell, don’t.  Let you and your experience make the connection, not the fact that you work for the agency headed by the person throwing the party. Since Roger Sterling is throwing the party, odds are he knows the gentlemen from DuPont and Pan Am pretty well.  A relatively junior staffer attempting to put on a hard sell will be embarrassing for all.

Note – as to the members of the Sterling Cooper team that spent the weekend at office with some added creativity provided by certain substances – rumor has it that something similar happened in the conference room one time at the first agency where I worked, but of course I was not there.

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