Zehnder Communications, Inc.

5 Lessons We Learned from Mad Men

What have seven seasons of Mad Men taught us? Many things, including that it’s never a good idea to drink before 10 a.m. or hide your identity. Since this show has come to an official end, we offer five Mad Men truths that are still relevant today. (No spoilers, we promise!)

It always comes back to the big idea. Don Draper’s “creative process” was a unique one for sure, but it centered on a concept that agencies still focus on today. The “big idea” of any campaign — that is, the one thing about a brand that catches an audience’s eye and elicits emotion — is what ultimately drives success. Whether you’re looking to increase your PR outreach or boost your social media presence, it’s essential that you have a big idea before you begin. For example, we loved when Don took Kodak’s “picture wheel” and renamed it the “photo carousel” to help consumers connect with the product on an emotional level.

Relationships are key. Though today’s advertising agencies have far fewer secretaries and many more computers, we know that personal relationships are still extremely valuable in the digital age. Whether it’s hosting internal brainstorm sessions between our departments or meeting with clients to collaborate on ideas, we find that solid relationships lead to strong campaigns. We’re all about spending quality time with each other and our clients — as long as we don’t end up with an eyepatch, that is.

The right tools keep you moving forward. We all smiled when Sterling Cooper invested in “modern” technologies like the typewriter, photo projector, and copy machine. But as outdated as these tools seem today, those tools were essential to keeping the Mad Men’s forward-thinking strategy in place. At Zehnder, we’re always trying out new tools and concepts, too — just talk to our Z-LABS team about virtual reality and native advertising.

Different perspectives shape strong messages. Some of Sterling Cooper’s most inspirational work came from people whom the executives might have least expected. We witnessed Peggy prove the importance of a woman’s perspective and Pete push ideas that appealed to diverse audiences. Don stumbled upon some of his best ideas during moments outside of the office, with his friends and family (and various girlfriends). We’ve found that keeping an open mind is key to creativity — did you know that our idea for the Visit South Walton beach booth was inspired by a vision of a snow globe during one of Nashville’s coldest winters?

Don’t mess with Joan. Joan never allows crying in the break room and just might smash a vase on your head. We’re pretty sure that every office has its own “Joan” — and we’re reminding you that you better be nice to yours.

Let's Talk.
Thanks for getting in touch! Someone will contact you very soon.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.