Mad Men took to our screens and offered an insider’s view of the world of advertising in the 1960s, complete with all its male chauvinism and sexualisation of women.
However, the marketers of Madison Avenue, New York have left a legacy for modern day marketing agencies.
While we are in the midst of a digital age, it is essential that we do not forget some of the fundamentals that marketing and advertising were founded upon.
That said, what better way to remind ourselves of the classic strategies and approaches that won the hearts of The West’s commercial population, than watching Don Draper and his cohort.
Outlined below are some of Draper’s finest moments of genius, which allowed for saturated markets to be tapped into and a USP to be developed amidst a range of identical products.
‘Lucky Strike: It’s toasted’
We are welcomed to the first episode with a shot of Don sat alone in a bar at midday, smoking and scripting content ideas on the back of a napkin. The question he faced was not that of ‘why smoke’ but rather ‘why smoke Lucky Strikes’. The client had no answers, and so far, nor did he.
When the meeting was on the brink of failure, Draper asked Lucky Strike how they manufactured their tobacco. While they described the process, he had a lightbulb moment and ‘it’s toasted’ was founded.
Of course, all tobacco is toasted, but Lucky Stripe were the first to market this as a feature that detracted from the less-than-favourable health issues that had recently come to light. The suave marketer went on to explain that “Advertising is based on one thing; happiness”.
Lesson? Your content must assure potential clients that selecting your brand will bring them a positive emotion, whether that is happiness, satisfaction or intelligence.
‘Mark Your Man’
During another client meeting, Draper and his team are required to create a campaign to sell lipsticks that come in an array of shades and colours. However, the meeting shows how the team have to convince the client it is not about singing all the praises and outlining all the bells and whistles, it is about a USP.
Don approaches this by explaining the inner mechanics of a woman and her desire to ‘mark her man’ by her lips and shade. The genius comes in the fact that as content marketers, the punch does not come from the endless list of features. It comes from the emotional hit, promoting female empowerment in the 1960s, when women were breaking into the male dominated world.
Lesson?  Try not to focus on the specific features of your product, but instead what it is that will offer empowerment to consumers; this is far more enticing than just a new colour or shape.
‘Change the Conversation’
The fictional advertising agency, Sterling Cooper, suffered a severe blow when American Tobacco dropped the agency.
Negative press and conversation followed, and the team were more than aware that this would impact future prospects.  Don realises his only option is to ‘change the conversation’ quickly and dramatically.
An ad is taken out in the New York Times, with corresponding content that implies the agency dumped the client in question, and not the other way round.
The next client to be signed by Sterling Cooper is the American Cancer Society, and Sterling Cooper is now the anti-smoking, pro-health agency in America.
Marketing requires the ability to deal with press, both positive and negative – be that a PR mess or a flawed campaign. The brilliance in this situation is that Draper takes the situation by the horns and turns it around into a positive. Taking control of the situation and tuning it to his tune, rather than someone else’s.
Lesson? The market is not there to define your brand. Determine the conversation you want to have, and then create the content to back it.
It is easy to rest marketing efforts upon logic and conservative claims. However, people run brands and businesses too; humans, in fact.
Tap into their emotions; they will experience fear, happiness and security, the same as the rest of us, and as such, so will their brand. So engage through your content and ensure that no potential client is left without an emotional etching.

Posted On
Mar 27 2015