Agency Lessons from Mad Men Episodes #501 and 502 – “A Little Kiss”

Image from

For the past few years, while watching Mad Men on AMC, I’ve been following up the episodes with blog posts about “Agency Lessons” that can be learned from that episode. Last week, I put them all together in one post.

Season five kicked off with a double episode that included many lessons for those of us that work in agencies:

– The episode opened with copy writers in the office of Young and Rubicam (a real world advertising agency often portrayed as the primary competitor to SCDP) dropping bags filled with water out their office window on civil rights protesters below (read the original article from the NY Times here, and yes the dialog in the lobby was real).  Don Draper and Roger Sterling follow this up with an “ad” in the NY Times that reads,

Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce

An equal opportunity employer. Our windows don’t open. We are committed to proving that Madison Avenue isn’t all wet.

They think it’s funny….until Joan Harris, the director of agency operations who is out on maternity leave, thinks she is being replaced, oh and twenty african american men and women show up in the lobby looking for a job.  Last month, I wrote about not expecting everyone to understand your sense of humor.  This is doubly important, when you are a bigot, and the times are changing, while you apparently, are not.

– The creative team led by Peggy Olson presented work to Heinz Baked Beans.  Let’s just say it wasn’t what the client wanted. Their feedback was, “It’s very artistic, and I want to be bold, but this isn’t what I had in mind when I was talking about a new generation of consumers.”  He asks, “Where’s the bite and smile?”  The standard food advertising shot making it very clear what you should do with the product and how it makes you feel.  The lesson here is that it’s always good to push the boundaries of creative but you have to know your client, and you need to have something safe in your back pocket.


Northern Wake – Join me in supporting a film about Humpback Whales and fishing tackle in Alaska

In 2010, I attended a screening of a film by my friend Lou Douros that highlighted the efforts of a group in Hawaii that works to remove whales that have become entangled in discarded fishing tackle.

Lou is making another film. Northern Wake is going to call attention to the humpback whales in Alaska, where they begin their migration to Hawaii.

Lou’s first film was basically self-financed, this time they are looking for a little help and have turned to their audience and Kickstarter.  I love watching Deadliest  Catch on the Discovery Channel, which is about the hard life on the Bering Sea.  I’m going to help, and look forward to seeing this film that talks about others that have a hard life on the Bering Sea, humpback whales.

So please, support a great cause and join me as a supporter of “Northern Wake,” on Kickstarter.

Mad Men Returns March 25! And I’ll be back with Agency Lessons from Mad Men

For the past few years, while watching Mad Men on AMC, I’ve been following up the episodes with blog posts about “Agency Lessons” that can be learned from that episode.  My first post about Mad Men was on July 21, 2007, following the premiere. Since then, there have been 41 more episodes and I’ve written about, I believe, 23 of them.

Gearing up for this Sunday’s season premiere, following is the teaser for the upcoming season and a list of those previous posts, in order of the number of views they have received:

When you’re looking to sell via social media, think “plus one,” the Kings do

Social media is not the place for the hard sell.  People have a choice on whether to pay attention to you, follow you, share information you create, and ultimately whether to spend their money with you.

With this is mind, lots of businesses use social media to help them sell more stuff, services etc.  If you spend all your time as a business pushing people to buy, they’re going to walk away. One of the general rules to think about is that at least 80% of what you put out there should be of interest to or of value to your audience, with around 20% of the things you share focused on trying to move your business forward.  This ratio may fluctuate a bit up or down depending on your business or your audience.

One way to make the most of the 80/20 rule of social media is to go a step further with something called “plus one.”  With this idea, even when you are within that 20% of trying to get people to buy something, give them one thing that is entertaining, interesting or of value.  The Sacramento Kings do a great job of this on their Facebook page.

Below is a post from March 5, 2012, where the Kings are looking to sell 2,000 more tickets to the upcoming game against the Dallas Mavericks.  The post didn’t say, “Hey buy tickets!”

Image from

The Kings gave their fans, a game by removing the player in the shot and replacing him with “Who Am I,” and then in the caption said that there were tickets available to the game and provided a link to buy tickets.  This is a great example of a simple way to hep use social media to build community, while still making money.

Telling stories – tips from Andrew Stanton

As a professional communicator, it’s my job to tell stories.  They aren’t always exciting stories, although sometimes they are, but I get paid to take something and make people care about it.

Andrew Stanton gets paid to tell stories as well, albeit on a bigger stage than I, and with considerably more skill.  Last month at the TED Conference, he gave a TEDTalk on storytelling.  I recommend you watch the whole thing, it’s 19 minutes and starts with an amazingly well told, and yes profane joke.

A few notes that I pulled out of it that stuck with me:

  •  storytelling is joke telling…it’s knowing your punch line, your ending, knowing everything from your first line to your last is working towards single goal; 
  • Storytelling commandment:  Make me care;
  • All good stories should give you a promise that they are leading you somewhere that is worth your time; and
  • The unifying theory of 2+2: make the audience put things together.

I came across this on, which is an amazingly entertaining site about everything, which I highly recommend, but also recommend you go spend some time watching other TedTalks, you never what you’re going to learn.

Social Media Goodness from the SF Giants – Giving something back to your community

If you are helping grow a community on Facebook or anywhere online, you are engaging in a transaction. You’re asking them to give you their attention. In exchange you give them a sense of belonging, an ability to connect with you and hopefully something in return.

One of the things you can give in return is early access to something. It doesn’t have to be anything huge, but the recognition that they get something special can go a long way.  Tonight, the San Francisco Giants had their first TV broadcast game of the year and debuted their new ad for season tickets.  It’s an ad, but the Giants made it available first to their fans on Facebook…and they loved it!

If you want to watch the video, you can do it on their site now.

Remember, when people “like” you on Facebook, they’re giving you something. Try and remember to give them something back.

Words matter: Whether talking, writing, or looking for a job – Preptel helps

If you’re writing, speaking or looking for a job, words matter.  Beyond making sure words are spelled correctly, or used properly, it now makes a huge difference if you choose the wrong, or right words to include in your resume.  This is primarily due to the rise of the use of applicant tracking systems or ATS’ by companies to filter out resumes.

ATS look for specific key words that relate to skills or experience suited to a specific job opportunity.  How do you know if you’re using the right words to cut through the system and get your resume noticed?  Try using a service like Preptel’s Resumeter Pro.

Image from

CIO Magazine recently reviewed Resumeter, see what they thought, and see if a service like Resumeter Pro is right for you.  IN case you’re curious, no Preptel isn’t a client of mine, but the company was founded by one of my best friends and I think they are on to something great.