As the pop culture phenomena Mad Men proves, advertising has always been a very sexy profession. Like Don Draper and the rest of the professionals at Sterling, Cooper and Partners, modern advertising executives spend their days curating culture, defining what the general population finds cool and hip, and crafting conversations about the brands and products they represent. While today’s advertising executive’s may indulge in occasional three martini lunches, it’s not nearly as common as it was in the early 70s. But that all may be changing.
Client meetings on Mad Men were fun. Don and his creative team lit up a cigarettes, poured some scotch, and elegantly reel the client into the pitch. Using a storyboard, the team’s spun the award-winning ads of their day. Today, advertising executives think much bigger. A single storyboard won’t cut it in our multi-media reality, so teams come equipped with high resolution photos, videos, casting ideas, and full on social media strategies. Clients and potential clients will now get a full court press during the creative process, leveraging the talents and expertise of many different staff members.
While the series has come under fire for its portrayal of race and gender, today’s advertising offices and executives are more likely to be criticized for the lack of diversity in their product, as opposed to their offices. Media watchdogs are quick to point out the lack of diversity within mainstream advertising, as well as the proliferation of photo-shopped images which reinforce a very specific idea of beauty. With the help of their clients, however, ad agencies are working hard to diversify their campaigns, making them more reflective of today’s families and consumers.
In the new season of Mad Men, Peggy and Joan’s influence, as well as the increased screen time of African American characters like Dawn and Shirley reflect the both changing dynamics and the introduction of a less masculine perspective.
Advertising has always been a profession for smart, hardworking, creative, and sometimes hard drinking men and women. While today’s advertising executives may indulge in occasional three martini lunches, they are more likely to be found spending their lunch hour at the gym, listening to podcasts, or surfing social media for inspiration. Connectivity to their content, their community, and the culture at large is key to their success. With an exceptionally high stress and burnout rate, advertising executives are actively looking for ways to manage both their health and their stress levels.
Don and company certainly looked sharp in their three piece suits. As this season begins, the old guard as SCP are starting to show their age, fashion -wise. Today’s advertising executives pay homage to the style of the 60’s with classically tailored, although a bit a more casual dress code. Being fashion forward and retro at the same time can be a hallmark of the industry.
Advertising, by design, is a changing and evolving industry. Executives of the Mad Men era and today are defined by their ability to innovative, create, interpret, and tell a story, with words and pictures (and today, hashtags). three Martini lunches may be a thing of the past, but the spirit of collaboration and creativity they inspire live on. We can all drink to that.