A Publication of WTVP

As I sat down to write this month’s column, it was just a few weeks until the Season 4 premiere of Mad Men. This AMC series is about the ruthlessly competitive men and women of the fictional 1960s Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad agency in New York City.

While we’re not ruthless at DLA, we do agree with some of the lessons that can be learned from Mad Men.

  1. New creates an itch. Don Draper (the consummate creative director) makes a powerful pitch to Kodak executives, presenting a campaign for the “wheel” of their slide projector. He renames it The Carousel and weaves in a story of nostalgia. Bam! It’s new and it works.
  2. Know your clients thoroughly. Okay, we haven’t driven a John Deere tractor around our office, as one woman did during a party at the Sterling Cooper headquarters, crashing into walls. But we have observed surgeries, climbed into private jets, toured facilities, and taken the time to truly understand what our clients do.
  3. Treat everyone with respect. You never know where your next customer will come from. One episode shows Don Draper sharing a drink with a gentleman who later turns out to be Conrad Hilton, the hotel magnate.
  4. Office politics are fun to watch on TV. But they’re no fun to play. We’ve intentionally kept our company to a manageable size so we can stay focused on our clients and their goals. We can keep our creative juices flowing without being distracted by the games being played out on shows like Mad Men.
  5. The only constant thing is change. While we are now addressing emerging marketing tactics such as the use of social media, the media planners at Sterling Cooper were discussing how to incorporate the evolving demographics of African Americans’ buying habits in the 1960s.
  6. Maximize technology. “Don’t be intimidated by all this technology. The men who designed it made it so simple that even a woman can use it,” explains Sterling Cooper office manager Joan Harris. She was talking about an electric typewriter and the reference to a woman makes me laugh…but the point is valid. Technology is what drives marketing today. We know that and have always stayed ahead of the curve, encouraging our clients to come along with us.
  7. Only boring people are bored. That bit of wisdom comes from outside the Sterling Cooper offices and is courtesy of Don’s wife, Betty. She’s speaking to her children, but we think it’s applicable here as well. We choose very carefully who we want to work with. We spend a lot of hours focused on our clients and their projects, so it only makes sense to pursue accounts for which we have a passion—it enables us to do our best work for them and strengthen our business relationship.
  8. “We sell products, not advertising. We don’t sell advertising (or marketing or websites). We sell products and services. Our job is to sell your products or services.” Well put, Don Draper!

While it’s fun to learn from TV and embrace the past, DLA Creative, like any good marketing firm, is firmly focused on the future and how to help our clients continue growing. Enjoy the next season of Mad Men with all of its creative, passionate and competitive characters…or meet some of DLA’s unique characters right here in Peoria! We’re all over the web on Twitter, Facebook, our blog and website. We’re also located on Willow Knolls Road—it’s not quite Madison Avenue, but it works for us! iBi