Agency Lessons from Mad Men Episode 404 – “The Rejected”

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Over the past few years, I’ve been writing about real agency lessons from Mad Men episodes.  Season four 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.

The big issue I’m going to focus on here is one I’ve written about before:  loyalty.

Pete Campbell hasn’t always made the best decisions. OK, that’s an understatement. He’s usually a spineless cad (wow, that was fun to write).  In episode 404, “The Rejected,” he gets a chance to make a good decision, and act as a good and loyal man, even if it may be for the wrong reasons.

Pete’s father in law is in charge of the marketing decisions for Clearasil.  It was his position that allowed Pete to bring this important account to the new Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce (SCDP)and become a partner.

SCDP has recently brought on board the Pond’s account which according to the new client is in conflict with the Clearasil account.  Since the Pond’s account is bigger than the Clearasil account, Pete is tasked with telling his father in law that they have to resign the account.

I’m a big believer in “dancing with the one that brung ya.”  Clearasil went with a new agency and they deserve a little loyalty for taking a risk.  Pete might feel the same way a a bit, but more than likely he just doesn’t want to lose leverage at the agency, since Pond’s isn’t his account, and he doesn’t want to have to tell his father in law that the agency he took a risk on is firing them.

So, Pete steps up and “encourages,” his father in law to bring more business to SCDP bringing the total billings to more than Pond’s so they get to keep Pete’s account.

The end result is that SCDP stays with a client that helped them get started.  My point is that it doesn’t always matter why you do the right thing, as long as it gets done.


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