Who Are the Modern-Day Mad Men?
What’s different in the marketing world since the 60s? Is Don Draper somewhere in Midtown Manhattan? Or he works from his home in Long Island?
I saw Mad Men for the second time recently, and I’m sure I’ll watch it again at some point! I love seeing 1960s Manhattan from the perspective of an advertising agency creative team. The incredible cast, well-developed characters, and multi-layer stories put this Golden Globe-winning TV show in the top 5 of my favorites.
The Transformation of Marketing
As a business designer and digital strategist, seeing a business model from another marketing era is always amusing. People say marketing is evolving. I think transforming is probably a better word. Authority and brand reach are more important than your slogan, TV commercial, aggressive email marketing campaign, or cold calling. I’m not saying those things are irrelevant, but if the focus is only on sales, you’ll lose people’s interest in your brand with time.
The Don Draper Metaphor
The change of Donald Draper, a narcissistic marketing wizard from Stanley Cooper on Madison Avenue, metaphorically portrays the changes in US society during the sixties that turned promised heaven for free thinkers and a place of equality into an ugly and twisted war machine.
Don invested everything into his image of a successful advertising genius and built a “perfect” life for himself, away from Dick Whitman. Running from responsibilities and chasing the ultimate satisfaction brought him back to the place he wanted to forget. He was on the top and saw nothing there except emptiness.
The 60s are undoubtedly a very turbulent time with the civil rights movement, anti-war protests, the deep generation gap, and the Kennedy assassination. Mad Men offers strong criticism of the American dream with hardworking women trying to survive in a men’s world, racial segregation, and the need to make things sound and look better than they actually are.
The collapse of one man, a “toxic-masculinity” icon and advertisement genius, symbolized changes (and the collapse) of the nation during this decade.
However, from the marketing perspective, changes have never been so foundational as during the relationship marketing era. Advertising has changed as much as the world since the 1960s. The 21st century and communication technologies completely changed the rules.
Relationships! Communities! Connections! Followers!
Is advertisement more complex today than it used to be during the 1960s? Yes. The game is different. People are different. The focus was on production, the product, sales, and consumer needs, and now it’s on RELATIONSHIPS.
Now, we’re building communities offering quality information to our audience. Social media, video marketing, SEO, and similar digital marketing tools are irreplaceable techniques and ways to deliver top-quality information to your customers and prospects.
People will say networking was always relevant, always crucial in doing business, and there’s nothing new in that need to connect with others. OK, but in the era of YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other platforms, building community and bringing your brand closer to people means you have to give them something. Funny stories, inspiring testimonials, answers to all tier questions and concerns, engaging videos, instructions, and other sales-free content are the ways to keep people interested and build your brand authority. Netizens need entertainment, stories, images, and videos - microdoses of dopamine!
Are Streamers Modern Mad Men?
YouTubers, TikTokers, Instagram models, and podcasters are so significant that many make 5 or 6 digits for a single post. Do YouTubers make more than Manhattan marketers? According to Network Marketing Power - no! But we all see how essential video platforms and social media presence are in modern-day digital marketing.
So, Where’s Don?
2022 Don Draper is probably near Madison, Lexington, Koreatown, or FiDi. Just like the Mad Men Don in the series finale, top NYC marketers realize they don’t need to convince people that their products are better than they are. Honesty and transparency have better effects. Brands need to build authority on quality content, full-scale social media presence, strong principles, and persistence. Building a community is a long-term task with long-lasting results. Shortcuts and cheap tricks may bring initial results, but they won’t last long. People are sick of sales and aggressive marketing. We want some relevant, fun, practical, and valuable information from the brands we love!