Agency Lessons from Mad Men Episode 410 – “Hands and Knees”

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I’m not writing weekly “Agency Lessons,” after every episode of Mad Men any longer, but this week’s episode, “Hands and Knees,” called for it.

At the core of the story of Mad Men are secrets. Don‘s secret of who he really is, Roger and Joan‘s secret about how they feel (don’t ask me if I think she went through with the abortion – she didn’t), Pete and Peggy‘s secret about a child they will never know, and Lee Garner Jr.’s secret about he felt about Sal.

All of those secrets are personal, but all impact business.  It’s OK to not share everything with your colleagues but some things have to be shared. Like let’s say for instance when a client, Lucky Strike, that represents 70% of your revenue is going away as of just about immediately.

So what did we learn this week?

  • Secrets aren’t just yours when you run a company
  • Read everything that you sign


Lee Garner Jr. told Roger over a meal that Lucky Strike was consolidating all of their work with BBDO and that there was nothing that Roger could do to change that.  Roger begged for and received a one month reprieve, but no change in status.

At the partners’ meeting a few days later, when the team was going through a review of accounts, Roger just gave a thumbs up when asked about Lucky Strike.  Here’s where it gets complicated.  His thinking is that he wants to have something else to give the agency when he tells them they are losing Lucky Strike so he spends late nights on the phone going through his Rolodex calling everyone he knows, and seemingly hasn’t talked to in a while since one of them has apparently died, trying to drum up business.

So now, since he is failing thus far in drumming up replacement business the rest of the team doesn’t know how dire their situation will become when they walk away from a potential $4m client due to Don’s failure to read what he signed.

Read Everything That You Sign

A few weeks ago I wrote about a form sent home from school that included a blanket media release for the use of my children in anything produced by or at the school. I didn’t approve.  That was buried in many other back to school papers being signed.  I sign a lot of things at work as well although I’m sure not as much as Mr. Draper.

The lesson here though is related to a form authorizing a background check and verifying certain points about Mr. Draper/Whitman for the US Department of Defense background check.  Granted, it seems that they were looking for communists, not deserters from military service, but they probably wouldn’t have been happy to find one of those either.  His assistant filled out the form and he signed it like he signed lots of things, probably with his mind on something else.  It doesn’t take too long to read what you are signing. ALWAYS READ IT ALL!

Side note:  If Lucky Strike is gone, will this mean Sal will be coming back?


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