Agency Lessons from Mad Men Episode 306 – Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency

From Mazaclaus Flickr Stream
From Mazaclaus Flickr Stream

Mad Men continues to include real issues faced by advertising (and yes PR firms) in an incredible show. If I wasn’t in this industry, I’m sure I would still be a fan of the show, but for me I get a bonus. I get to watch situations I encounter all the time dealt with by others. In episode 306,  “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency,” you get to see all the good and bad that can come from just walking through a door.

You never know where your next piece of business will come from:

A few episodes ago, Don Draper made a drink for a gentleman while they were both ditching out of their respective parties.  Don received a call from that gentleman. Turns out he happens to own a few hotels, and has a grand-daughter with a penchant for Carl’s Jr burgers and washing cars. So Don goes to meet with Conrad Hilton at the Waldorf Astoria. While there Hilton asks Don to critique some of his print ads.  Don replies with, “I don’t think you’d be in the presidential suite right now if you worked for free.”  He does give in and gives his opinion of the ads. Note, don’t include a mouse in a hotel ad.

Take the Meeting:

This is actually a two-parter. Take the meeting goes along with “allow yourself to be recruited,” which was advice given to me by a mentor.  I think Hilton was impressed by Draper and was looking him over.  Whether you are looking for a job or not, if someone calls, take the meeting.  And if someone wants to recruit you, give them a chance to make an offer. You don’t have to take it. But you should listen.

Don’t ride the lawnmower in the bullpen:

Ken Cosgrove landed John Deere as a new client and to announce his success rides a John Deere riding lawnmower into the office (side note, I learned how to drive a clutch on just such a lawnmower.  No comment on whether after learning I drove it down the street to a friends house.)  The lawnmower shows up again as Smitty takes a joyride (after apparently availing himself of the proffered free liquor) during an office party and with Lois at the wheel, it manages to sever the foot of the hotshot new Chief Operating Officer from London.  Lesson here is don’t drink too much at office events.  This should seem like a no-brainer but believe me, I’ve seen it get ugly. Ok, so no one has lost a limb, but I have seen careers cut off. It took me a few years to learn this one, but I got it figured out.  Two drinks.  Max. With something else in between each one.  My favorite is tonic water with a lime. No one ever asks why you don’t have a drink if that is in your hand.  Sorry Smitty, I think you’re done.

Org charts are written in pencil:

The reason for the party that served as Smitty’s undoing was the unwrapping of a new org chart. Everyone was very unhappy with the new layout, but turns out the whole thing is getting thrown out the window, since apparently in the world of advertising in the 60’s if you lose a foot, you lose your job as well.

Good office managers can do anything:

Once again, back to the foot severing.  The first one on the scene and the one to apply a tourniquet and take charge of the situation was departing office manager Joan Holloway.  I cannot stress enough the importance of making friends with and helping out the office manager.  They may not need to stop you from bleeding out, but they can be an incredibly important ally.


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