Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The Mad Men Effect

So many people I know love the TV show Mad Men, so I Netflix’d (is that a real word? If not, I’d like the copyright, please!) seasons 1-3. I’ve marveled at what 1960 in an office was like; the men in 3 piece suits, the women in their be-girdled glory and complicated hairstyles. The things that really stick out are smoking and drinking in the office, and how grown women were treated like a combination of servant/eye candy.

If you don’t know the show, it revolves around the people who work at advertising firm Sterling & Cooper. The title is a clever combination of “Ad Men” and the fact that the big firms had HQs on Madison Avenue in NYC. Watching the characters research and brainstorm pitches, taglines, marketing slogans and graphics is fascinating and not unlike what a lot of firms still do today. What’s changed, however, is the client’s role in this endeavor. The show makes it look as though the client has no part of the process except to say yes or no. Any discussion on the part of the clients is frowned upon, and in one episode, a client was told to leave when they didn’t fully accept the advertising agency’s (one and only) campaign suggestion. The lead in the show, Don Draper, is said to be able to “talk anyone into anything.”

Which got me wondering, have you ever had an experience where you felt like you, as a client or customer, were manipulated by this kind of tactic? Tell us about it in the comments.

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