Agency Lessons from Mad Men Episode 312, “The Grown Ups”




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.  This week’s episode, “The Grown Ups,” was no exception.

The big theme in agency issues this week was the theory that it’s better to be part of a good team than on no team at all. This played out in two different story lines, one between Paul Kinsey and Peggy Olson and the other between Ken Cosgrove and Pete Campbell.

The Paul and Peggy issue came up two weeks ago in “The Color Blue,” when Paul confronted Peggy and accused her of piggybacking on his ideas.  During a working session later in the episode together they come up with a winning idea for Western Union.  Paul’s face at the time didn’t really say if he was incredibly impressed by what Peggy had come up with as a result of Paul’s input or if he was flabbergasted that she had stepped on his head on the way up the ladder once again.

This week we see Paul and Peggy working together in her office and he has moved into a role where he treats her as “one of the boys,” as evidenced by his wink and comment that he “knows a nooner when he hears one,” and is no longer threatened by her. I like to think that he has realized that he has limitations as a copywriter and she makes him better and knows that to succeed his best bet is try and work with her to create great work as opposed to being in direct competition.

Continuing on the thread of competition, there has been an ongoing competition between Ken Cosgrove and Pete Campbell as to who would emerge as the single head of account services after they were both given co-head of accounts titles early in the season.  This week the decision is made and according to Lane Pryce (formerly known as the representative of the British Overlords) while Pete is “excellent at making clients feel their needs are being met,””Mr. Cosgrove,” Lane explains, “has the rare gift of making them feel as if they haven’t any needs.”

This is an important difference and one completely lost on Pete.  He feels that since he kept billings up near where Cosgrove did he must be doing as good of a job.  The lesson is that if you are doing just what the client asks that means they have to ask, but if you are taking care of everything and making things seems effortless for the client, they don’t feel like they have to ask.

This situation can backfire in some situations as some clients may start to believe that since all of these things ‘just work,” that anyone can do it.  But in this case, so far, the only backfire is on Campbell who takes that he wasn’t chosen for the promotion very personally and retreats to the solace of his darkened apartment and leftovers and several stiff drinks.

If you find yourself part of a good team, grab on, contribute to the best of your ability and enjoy the ride.


2 thoughts on “Agency Lessons from Mad Men Episode 312, “The Grown Ups”

  1. Thank you! I’ve managed to stay current this year and written one for every episode. Might need to go back and cover seasons 1 & 2.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s