The Advertising Apprentice

April 17, 2010

Mad Men Mania

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 11:00 AM

I must admit that despite all the great things I’ve heard about Mad Men I never made the conscious effort to sit down and tune-in. In the last month I’ve picked up all three seasons and watched all 39 episodes… there’s something ironic about watching a, albeit fictional, show about advertising without being exposed to a single thirty-second spot!

There are many great things to love about this show. The setting for instance: 1960s New York City, no cell phones, no Internet, and you could smoke at work and in restaurants. And I make that comment while having never smoked a day in my life.

Of course there is also Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm. While I’m not a huge fan of his infidelity, I really appreciate his creative talent and the way he manages people. There’s something infectious about the way he handles himself at Sterling Cooper and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

I can also now see why so many people are obsessed with Christina Hendricks.

While the show provides some good context for the period during which the great David Ogilvy wrote Confessions of an Advertising Man and Ogilvy on Advertising, there isn’t much for an adman of the twenty-first century to take away. Though how surprised can I really be by this?

The most interesting insight revealed can be found in the special features section of season one. A 19-minute feature called Advertising the American Dream discusses advertising’s role in society. The video starts off with a pretty powerful quote from President Franklin Roosevelt who said, “The general raising off the standard of modern civilization… would have been impossible without the spreading of the knowledge of higher standards by means of advertising.” A few minutes into the documentary we get the following statement from Dr. Bernard McGrane from Chapman University Department of Sociology, “Sponsors have to believe they need to advertise their products or no one will buy it. That itself is an accomplishment of the advertising industry to get all the other industries to believe that the advertising industry is necessary. In that sense advertising advertises advertising.” Let that digest for a second: advertising advertises advertising.

Indeed this is a very bold statement made by McGrane and I completely agree with it. Advertising is an industry that prides itself on being able to (effectively) sell products and services to consumers, it’s essential inherent that the industry would be able to sell itself to other industries and to convince these industries they need the services of an ad man or woman.

Now I’m off to go get myself a fedora in an attempt to pull off the Don Draper look! First thing Monday morning I’ll be posting an entry on three discussion-worthy, “intriguing” ads. The first is the latest Nike, Tiger Woods ad, the second is a print-ad from a grocery store in Sudbury, Ontario, and the final ad I’ll be talking about in the entry is a 45-second commercial from Kotex.


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