Sunday, April 7

Are We Still "Mad Men"?

With much anticipation, I watched the Season 6 premiere of "Mad Men" last night, right along with many of my colleagues.  I say "right along with my colleagues" because everyone was on social media chatting during it!

Yes, "Mad Men" is all about an era, as shown through the eyes of the advertising industry.  And while it seems like it's all about the drama around these advertising executives, what it's really about is Fashion, Furniture, and Cocktails.

How do we know that's true?  Take a look at the pop culture trends that the show has sparked in these categories, particularly the come back of the Cocktail.  "Cocktail" has even come back into our vernacular.

The fun part about last night was all of the Premiere Parties ... with the Fashion and of course the Cocktails.  I was at one myself ... great fun.

One thing did struck me, however, as it relates to the advertising/marketing industry ... of which I have spent the bulk of my career:  it's just not like that anymore!  I'm not even sure it ever was, although I am sure that there are parts of it that are quite accurate, sans at least some of the drama.  Ok, maybe with all the drama.

But it's not like that anymore, at all.  My generation and the generations younger just don't operate this way anymore.  No cocktails at lunch and certainly no smoking in the office.  But also the way that these characters do business has dramatically changed.  It's much more collaborative and democratic, and far more (dare I say) strategic.  So while this is just "television," it is an amazing look into how business was "done" in an era gone by, of which we can celebrate now how we "do things."

Thankfully!  What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
- President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
- Author, The Experience Effect series
- Professor, NYU
- Contributor, Entrepreneur


  1. TV series are like the cultural talker as they commonly represented the pop, current lifestyle or even lead to the new trend. In my view, some changes are better, while some are worse. For example, the leading stars in many previous popular shows commonly were the macho men who could fight for the local communities by guns. Now, most main characters are businessmen or the upper-level income guys who disguise themselves to be the poors. In other words, the Thai society becomes money-concious. On the other hand, the series also represented the development of technology. For example, today we hardly see the characters write a letter to their lover, bike/paddle the small, traditional wood boat to meet their friends, or buy the products at local grocery stores, but at 7-Eleven (the convenience stores). I glad to see the better, original changes which carring guns in public is illegal, but sometimes I unavoidably miss our conventional lifestyle which loosens our tight-schedule life in the city.

    Arucha P.

  2. I watched (and have been eagerly anticipating) the season premiere on Sunday night as well! I totally agree with you that while the business practices have definitely since changed, elements of office politics and drama will always be the same. (Isn't that how the adage goes? "Times change. People don't.") One thing I've loved watching is the evolution of women's roles in the work place. It's great to see two strong female characters with different roles in the field and to watch them grow as the show progresses. It's also fun to see the advertising challenges as they relate to the events of that time period. Eager to see what this season has in store. Bring on the hippies!

  3. I think we are about to go into the 70's by the end of the season ... should be interesting. JIM