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. Episode 307 “Seven Twenty Three,” signifying the date Don Draper finally signs a contract with Sterling Cooper is no exception.
There really are people who do business like Conrad Hilton:
For those not familiar with agency life it might seem odd that a man who operates a huge company like Hilton would decide to make a decision like giving control over advertising very important properties like The Waldorf Astoria on a seeming whim. It happens. Believe me. Five years ago, I was called down to meet with a company’s executive team. We, me and a colleague, made a short presentation, and then the CEO of the company said, “Ok, now get out for a second so we can talk about you (he said it with a smile).”
When we were called back in five minutes later he said, “We want to hire you, but I have to warn you, I hire fast and I fire fast.” That relationship between the company and the agency ended up running for several years and even outlasted my tenure with the agency.
Later, I learned that the seeming “whim,” wasn’t really a whim. He had done his research on me and on my employer. Just because someone seems to operate without a net, doesn’t mean there isn’t one. It just means you haven’t seen it yet.
There are no secrets in business:
When Don finally signs a three year contract with Sterling Cooper he says to agency partner Bert Cooper, “I don’t want any more contact with Roger Sterling.” This seems to be relating to Roger’s betraying the secret of Don/Dick Whitman’s true identity to Cooper. The lesson here is that there are no secrets in business that last forever. Even if everyone agrees to not betray a trust, there will come a time, when something else is more important than that trust.
Other non-agency related lessons:
- Don’t pick up hitchhikers
- Don’t take drugs from said hitchhikers (OK, no drugs at all)
- The Pierre Hotel has some pretty sweet suites