Month: April, 2015
“Mad Men” started its final lap last night. Seven more episodes of the best show on television, wrapping up Don Draper’s emotional stagger through the 1960s.
It’s a TV show that I hold dear and one which may have gotten this agency to where it sits just shy of five years since we launched.
Without “Mad Men,” there’s no Smirk New Media.
A couple of disclaimers: First, there shouldn’t be any influence of the show on how one lives their life. Don is a wreck more than a mensch – a cautionary tale of what happens when you bury truth under a pile of booze and women. Don is brilliant in his work – and its those moments which draw me in – but what could that work have been like without 10 a.m. sips of Canadian Club?
Second, “Mad Men” is not alone in how its ideas helped to water and fertilize the idea that blossomed into Smirk, but without it the whole construct falls down. But the same can be said for books (“Good to Great” by Jim Collins), events (the 140 Characters Conference), people (my wife, Mike Sherman, Giovanni Gallucci). It’s the butterfly effect and George Bailey all rolled into one.
But what is it about this one show? When it premiered in 2007, I didn’t pay too much attention. But eventually, I was swept up. Maybe it was because of the social media conversation about the show, the mid-modern aesthetic or the story lines which drew me in, but what made it stick was the business side. The scenes in the boardroom, when Draper is wooing a client or when Pete Campbell is connecting the dots between Sterling Cooper and a prospect. To me, that was the drama.
This grows out of my previous life as a journalist, where the world of business lived on the other side of a brick wall and was only spoken of in whispers. The hunter-gatherer aspects of discovering and landing costumers was a voodoo art to me. And now, in 2007, 2008 and 2009, when I was still in journalism, but dipping my toe into the icy waters of profit-and-loss statements, revenue projects and Collins’ Hedgehog Principle, “Mad Men” started to feed that fever.
When I eventually leaped off the old media cliff – first to an agency and then to start my own business – I did so at a time when Mad Men was reaching its peak. In the ensuing days, I’ve wrung out a ton of emotions and ridden the success-and-failure carousel. There have been days I’ve felt like Don after a home run pitch, but more than a few days I’ve felt like Pete … well … being Pete.
And since those first days, I’ve learned the lessons that, I think, the folks at Sterling Cooper Draper (McCann?) are now learning. That without the relationships you have in your life, you are rudderless; and without partners and co-workers you can trust and rely on, there are holes that money and success cannot fill. And, as fun as it is to make a pitch, growing a business that will leave a legacy is very important. Even to men like Roger Sterling. Even to guys like me.