If you’re a marketer (or anyone addicted to great TV) and weren’t hooked on AMC’s Mad Men series, schedule a few weekends of Mad Men marathons. Mad Men was the award-winning fictional series (four-time winner of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series) based on the real Mad Men of Madison Avenue who took the advertising world by storm in the 1960s. Both on TV and in real life, the Mad Men shattered the orthodox advertising industry’s long-held theories and pioneered many of the advertising principles that continue to influence marketing.
Don Draper and the other characters in the series were fictional, but Mad Men was based on real events. Props and costumes from the show were donated to the Smithsonian Museum, later prompting the Smithsonian Channel to run a four-part series on the real Mad Men of advertising.
Advertising’s Golden Age
Why was all this attention focused on advertising in the 1960s? Advertising is nothing new. For as long as people have been selling products, they have been finding ways to convince others to buy whatever they were selling. Yet, the period of the 1960s is referred to as advertising’s Golden Age. Are there any lessons for today’s marketers? Are those days of groundbreaking creativity gone forever?
Advertising Quotes From Mad Men
1. “Advertising is based on one thing: happiness.”
You’ve probably heard this a thousand times: “Sell the Sizzle, NOT the Steak” or “Sell the Benefits, NOT the Features.” Marketing 101. Since every marketer or copywriter knows this, why do so few ads really connect at a deep level with consumers?
Marketing is like most human endeavors. Most adults drive every day, but very few could win the Daytona 500. There’s a vast gap between doing something adequately and becoming a true master.
Great ads don’t focus on a product’s features. People generally buy what makes them happy and don’t really care how the product was made or why it works the way it does. Countless products, ranging from the luxury and entertainment industries to fashion sell because of how they make the buyer feel. The product’s features may help rationalize the buyer’s decision, but an emotional connection seals the deal.
How is that emotional connection formed? With creativity.
2. “What’s happening in the story right now?”
In Mad Men, that comment referred to an ad for a floor cleaning product that told a story. Geico’s green gecko, Kay Jewelers’ romantic vignettes and Budweiser’s Clydesdales all connect with people through a story.
Telling a story in a few words or a very short video isn’t easy. To do it well takes creativity of the highest order, but the payoff is huge. Become a storyteller.
3. “Try to figure out what I want.”
If anything, today’s marketers obsess over trying to figure out what consumers want. Demographic research, focus groups, intensive data analysis and repeated testing should ensure that every ad hits the mark.
In spite of all that, even the biggest corporations can have epic failures. Remember New Coke? 2017’s list of the worst ad campaigns included Pepsi, Dove, McDonald’s and Audi. Obviously, it takes more than highly paid agency executives, endless number-crunching and a huge budget to figure out what consumers want.
Great Ads and Creativity
To master any craft, you should learn from the best. Take a look at the 17 best ads of all time and review how they achieved that status.
As you’ll discover, the one thing all great ads have in common is creativity.
The Mad Men of the past are long gone, but their influence remains. Forget the three martini lunches they thrived on. What mattered was their creativity. That’s what still matters, whether it’s found in a one-person shop or a large New York agency. Today’s Mad Men (or Women) are hard at work, creating the next great ad.
At BXP Creative, we value creativity so much we included it in our company’s name. Creativity is an essential component of all of our services. We designed our process so we could provide white label creative services to agencies at an affordable price.
How can we help you? Tell us about your next project. Let’s get to work.