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Mad Men – Good Work: My Anti-Drug

The 60’s were quite the time to experiment. Peggy and the SCDP team certainly tried a few new things in the latest episode. Perhaps Peggy’s most questionable decision (at least the one we’re going to talk about) is her reaction to the Heinz client who did not approve the “Home is where the Heinz is” campaign. Peggy is used to having Don convince the client that the work is good. Don’s off in another realm and not paying attention to anything going on at the office.

The Heinz rep says that Peggy & Co. write down what he asks for, but they can’t give him what he wants. Peggy lashes out, saying that he knows the work is good, “young and beautiful,” and that he just likes fighting. She is immediately removed from the account and goes on a midday movie-marijuana-extracurricular bender.

It’s very important to stand behind your work and push back when you believe in your ideas. There is a thin line though between pushing back against your client and being aggressive towards your client. As we have said in previous posts, every client relationship is different, which means an appropriate tone for one client may not work for someone else. But insulting or belittling your client is never appropriate; doing so could rupture the business relationship and cost you your job.

Seeing Clearly

People stand behind their work because they’re invested in it; they’ve put time, blood, sweat and tears into creating something that they are proud of. But one needs to see the project with clear eyes, which is where the concept of a healthy work/life balance comes into play. Spending too much time at one or the other will sacrifice the quality of the neglected part.

Having enough time for both work and leisure is vital to a healthy lifestyle.  That doesn’t mean you can take off whenever you want, even if Don Draper thinks so. Think of it as a symbiotic relationship—we tend to do our best work when our personal lives are fulfilling, and we are happier outside the office when things go well on the inside.  It’s obvious the folks at SCDP have their work/life priorities out of whack. Peggy’s boyfriend reminds her, “I’m your boyfriend, not your focus group!”

While there are plenty of ways to de-stress from work, I recommend doing none of the things that Peggy, Don, or Roger did in the latest episode. Not that I speak from experience, but their actions seemed to cause more stress than release it. And given that stress usually kills the creative exchange of ideas, it’s a bad omen that so much of it is flying around SDCP.


Previous Mad Men posts on The Hit Board:

Mad Men – Fighting for New Business

Murder and Team Work: All in a Night’s Mad Men

Murder and Team Work: All in a Night’s Mad Men

Sunday night’s Mad Men had a dark tone, using several real-world instances to cast an even darker cloud over the episode. Most of the episode was dealing with out-of-office drama, including Don’s “illness,” which made him confront if not subconsciously kill his inner demons.

The in-office storyline focused on the creative pitch for Butler Shoes. Don and the team pitched an idea that the client had loved. As they were shaking hands, newbie copywriter Ginsberg brought up his “plan B” idea of women wearing these shoes and “wanting to get caught,” complete with a Cinderella ending.

Although the client buys it, Don is infuriated that Ginsberg would make such a suggestion without running it by the team  first, let alone a ‘cliched” campaign with a fairy tale story arc.  Moreover, the idea of young women being chased was even more egregious than it normally would be given the harrowing reports of Richard Speck’s murders in Chicago: Ginsberg nearly gets canned before his first campaign ever sees the light of day.

This episode, for all its darkness, also illustrates the importance of thorough communication to the team’s success. Before ever going to a client, team members need to make sure they agree on strategy and the messages they want to convey. Going rogue or doing something “off the books” runs a dangerous risk looking disorganized. This, in turn, leads to inefficiency, missed deadlines and even lost business.

This is not to say that innovative and spontaneous good thinking should be censored. Indeed, creative ideas should always be welcome. But team members should share their ideas internally first and get everyone on the same page before going to the client.

Don strayed from the company message in Season 4 with “The Letter” that he posted in The New York Times. Everyone was worried about the future of the agency – with good reason. Fortunately, the ad did not wreak havoc, although we can’t exactly say that it has paid off for them yet.  Ginsberg’s maneuver was somewhat successful – for now – but could have blown the business deal for SCDP.

Ginsberg was almost fired for his actions. Had the client been infuriated with his idea, it very easily could have ended his job before it really began. When communicating with anyone, be it a client or colleague, how do you walk the delicate line between staying on-message, while still taking risks?

If you were Don, would you have fired Ginsberg? Or do you keep him because the client liked his idea? Discuss below in the comments. Or, if you like the post, please tweet it.


Monday Matinee Mad Men: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

New business is the life blood of any agency but so are those large-scale retainer accounts that back in the day, paid agencies a straight 15 percent fee. Since Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce lost Lucky Strike, it’s been a free-for-all in trying to find that next great account.

This week SCDP found itself winning new (old) business with Mohawk Airlines – and was still trying to land the elusive Heinz business. Over dinner with Don, Megan and his wife, the Heinz client delivered his own “brilliant” idea to pair the brand with a hot new band called the Rolling Stones, getting them to sing “Heinz, Heinz, Heinz is on My Side” to the tune of  the Stones’ classic “Time is on My Side.”

Usually one to squash a client’s idea, Don instead agreed to investigate the possibility of securing the band. After a failed backstage ambush at a Stones concert inNew York, Don and Harry drown their sorrows (and Harry’s medicated munchies) in fried food.

Interesting fun fact: The idea wasn’t too much of a stretch as the group created a jingle for Rice Krispies back in 1963.

Teaming bands and brands isn’t a crazy concept anymore. In fact, it’s everywhere these days, and seeing this strategy in its nascent stages is part of what makes this episode so fascinating.

Artists have exclusive and dedicated audiences. They have the power to unite people of all ages and demographics and create evangelists. Artists are their own brands. But if used strategically, they can help raise another brand’s profile.

Live Nation has mastered this concept by partnering popular artists with brands that resonate with their fan bases. Using data analytics, Live Nation was able to determine tendencies of fans for particular artists. For example, some of their integrated marketing programs include those for Beyonce and Citi; Thirty Seconds to Mars and HP; and Hertz and Fitz and the Tantrums.

Today, though, it’s about more than just a 30-second ad featuring a big-name act. A smart marketing program engages music lovers at every brand touch point – before, during and after the show, on Twitter, Facebook, mobile apps, and via VIP events at the venue.

But as Don Draper would likely point out, just because you can have the Rolling Stones sing about your beans doesn’t necessarily mean you should. An example of a good partnership between artist and brand in today’s age comes from Translation. The agency created an original song for Wrigley called “Forever” with Chris Brown back in 2007. The song featured Doublemint’s catch phrase “Double your pleasure, double your fun” throughout the song, which ended up being a No. 1 hit and garnering extensive exposure for Doublemint. Chris Brown represented a youthful vibe that Doublemint was lacking. He helped connect the gum to the next generation

What Live Nation, Translation and others know to be the golden rule of branded partnerships, is that the star brand has to be a fit for the corporate brand. If there isn’t an authentic connection between the two, you’re left with disappointed fans, celebs and marketers. So even though the Stones weren’t right for Heinz beans, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t another band out there that would do the trick.

Perhaps in next week’s episode the Beach Boys will make a cameo appearance. Unless they’re way down in Kokomo.

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