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Merging Ideas and Businesses: Mad Men Philosophies

Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm), Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) - Mad Men - Season 6, Episode 6 - Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/AMC

Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm), Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) – Mad Men – Season 6, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/AMC

“For Immediate Release” was a perfect name for this last episode of Mad Men. This episode of Mad Men has truly been the best and most action-packed episode of season six thus far. Out of all the infidelity, french subtitles, and lost business, comes a revival of Roger. Through a VIP airport lounge girl, Roger Sterling meets Mikey O’Brien of Chevy. The two hit it off and Roger wins a spot in the creative pitch for their newest model car.

The night before the pitch comes and Don Draper is sitting at a Detroit bar – not surprised. Ted Chaough of Cutler, Gleason and Chaough walks in. Chaough believes that now that their are two smaller agencies in the mix, they now cancel each other out. So for the fun of it, they play a little game of “show me yours and I’ll show you mine.” After they run through a version of their pitches, Don laments that he should sell his brain to Chevy in a jar while Ted suggests they both leave now. Don slyly says, “We. That’s interesting.” It is interesting, especially since Joan berated him earlier in the show for never using that word. Don takes the reins and tells Ted to decide what to pitch while he figures out how to convince Chevy it was their idea. As simple as that, the merger begins. In the time of Mad Men, Campbell Ewald had already been handling Chevy’s business for decades. For this model, in the fictional world, SCDP and CGC won.

Mergers, partnerships, and idea sharing are common among today’s ad agencies for large clients. Just recently, former Chief Marketing Officer Joel Ewanik of GM formed a historic ad agency structure between Interpublic’s McCann Worldgroup  and Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein, & Partners, called Commonwealth. Unfortunately, this agency structure for Chevy advertising looks to be crumbling.  When creative’s come together to form a greater good for a client they must be able to work well together. Here are a few things Don and Ted, and anyone in this situation for that matter, will have to do to work well together.

  1. Find a new office: If one company just merges into the office of another it  could easily become a turf war. The other company would always be seen as the new guys and not as a merging of equals. A new office allows both companies to feel like the new guy and will allow them to start off on a good note without any mention of whose chair you can or can’t sit in.
  2. Set boundaries: Two creative genius‘ that are used to holding the fate of the entire company in their hands may not have the easiest time consulting each other before they make decisions. For client projects like Chevy they may both have to collaborate, but for the rest of the clients they should divide and conquer. Trying to have two creative heads with very different personalities work together may turn into an episode of Jerry Springer fairly quickly. Setting boundaries will help keep work efficient and effective.
  3. Respect colleagues: Peggy is in a new role and let’s face it, Don can’t just throw twenties in her face anymore. also, there is a whole other creative department that both sides will now have to integrate. Colleagues and superiors alike will need to respect each other’s talents.  If they respect each other, they should be able to collaborate more easily and produce even better work. If colleagues start disrespecting each other, cliques will form and it could be a huge detriment to both ad agencies.
  4. Find common ground: Both companies were doing some amazing work already. Once competitors, they are now a merger of equals. This competitive spirit may get in the way so it is important to find a common ground between colleagues. Understand each other, spend some time together, and understand expectations.

Have you ever been in a situation where a company was bought or merged? Maybe a new client came in and your department doubled? How did you deal with it and what was the outcome?

This article originally published on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=17462

National Tragedy and the Workplace: Mad Men Philosophies

peggy_mad_men_season6_episode5What does The Flood have to do with the assassination of MLK? That and many other comments came from viewers on the fifth installment of Mad Men season 6.  This episode did one thing very well. It showed the public how white collar working professionals dealt with a national tragedy at work just less than 50 years ago. Dealing with a national tragedy at work is not easy no matter what time period you are in. Every person and every company deals with these situations differently. Here are five situations in how the Mad Men era deals with national tragedy in the workplace; the similarities to people you may know today are haunting.

  1. The Paul Newman: Don Draper and the rest of Madison Avenue found out about the tragedy while at the Andy Awards with Paul Newman giving the keynote address. One audience member yelled out and the hall quickly cleared for a break in the festivities. When they summoned everyone back into the hall Don said “What else are we going to do?” The idea for this set was to forget about it and move on. After the party Don just wants to fall asleep.
  2. The Harry Crane: Less than 24 hours after the tragedy, Harry Crane is fielding calls from clients on make goods for all the commercials they are not airing. Crane boldly says “Enough of this crap already,” much to the dismay of Pete Campbell. Crane thinks there is too much news coverage on MLK’s death taking up his precious airtime. Crane’s philosophy is to work through the day and move past the situation.
  3. The Creepy Client: Roger’s “insurance friend” Randall Walsh wants to come in the next day, again less than 24 hours after the assassination.  Walsh wants to take advantage of the situation with a new ad. He had a trippy dream where he thinks he spoke to MLK himself. He wants an print advertisement for his property insurance with his company name, a Molotov cocktail, a match, and a coupon at the bottom. Don’s morals stand to attention and he agrees with the client’s current art director not to move forward. Don says it is in poor taste. The creepy client philosophy is focused on inappropriate opportunism.
  4. The Helpers: We see a few instances of people needing to spring into action in the wake of the tragedy. Henry helps the mayor. Abe helps the public by reporting for the New York Times, heading to “… Harlem in a tuxedo.” Megan takes the kids to a vigil in the park. She says ” I just can’t sit around the apartment anymore. I feel like I have to do something.” The philosophy for the helpers is to focus on the needs of others.
  5. The Peggy: Ever the insightful one, Peggy hits the nail on the head. Upon arriving at the office she tells her African-American secretary “You should go home. In fact, none of us should be working.” Back at SCDP, Bert Cooper closes the office early. This group realizes what affect a tragedy has on society and places high value on employee morale.

As we see in each instance, many people have very different ways of dealing with a national tragedy as large as the MLK assassination, especially in the workplace. From extremes of not caring about it to taking time off of work, the Mad Men era is all over the map in dealing with this. This is surprising to see since just 5 years earlier the world was in shock with the death of JFK.  Which set do you or your company fall into when dealing with a national tragedy at work? Was their a sixth category you would add to this list?

This article originally posted on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Ave at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=17427

Loyalty, Friends, and Work: Mad Men Philosophies

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heinz-baked-beans-mad-menLoyalty and work in advertising. This is not the standard norm that it once was. Loyalty in this business — in any business, for that matter — is more of an old value that sits on the shelf, used occasionally but most often forgotten. Mad Men’s latest installment in their Emmy-winning series titled “The Collaborators” brings us three major instances of challenged loyalty in business. Let’s not even get started on their personal lives.

  1. Loyalty and longtime business: Don Draper and Ken Cosgrove are visited by Heinz Baked Beans client Raymond Geiger for an introduction meeting. He introduces them to Heinz Ketchup’s “Polished Pollack.” The meeting ends and after the head of the “Coca Cola of Condiments” walks out of the room, Ray quickly changes his tune, saying not to go after the Ketchup division. Ray assures Don and Ken that he is happy with SCDP and walks out. Ken Wants to go after Ketchup anyways but Don reels him back in, saying, “Sometimes you gotta dance with the one that brung you.” Ken is unhappy with this response. Did Don do the right thing in keeping loyalty towards Ray and the Baked Beans division? This brings us back to earlier in the Mad Men seasons, when Don wanted to stay with Mohawk Airlines and Duck wanted to go after American Airlines. Ultimately they ended up without either airline. This makes me think that Don may have had this in his mind when he was explaining his rationale to Ken. We will have to wait for further episodes to see how this unfolds; however, what would you do in this situation? It would be easy to risk everything and go for broke, but would you be willing to lose the Baked Beans business? Don’s loyalty in business, though ironic, shows great concern for his clients and their best interests. When clients know you are in their corner, they fight for you in ways that you could never think of. Ray is testing Don’s loyalty and it looks like he is going to pass.     
  2. Loyalty for the good of the client: Don’s loyalty towards this work and what is right for the client is tested again in this episode but in a different way. One-third of his Jaguar client, Herb Rennet, is trying to poison the deal once again and thinks only about himself. Herb calls a meeting with Pete and Don to discuss changing all of the media buys and creative to favor his part of the business. Then he asks Don to pitch it to the rest of the team as their idea. Don knows this is not right and the work will suffer. He also knows that it will reflect poorly on the firm if they run with this plan. When the rest of the Jaguar team comes in for the final discussion before launch Don pulls a pitch move like we have never seen before, attempting to sell Herb’s idea but knowingly sounding very off base. The Jaguar team knows that this does not sound right for their luxury brand so they stay with the original decision as Don intended. This loyalty that Don showed exhibited what needed to be done for the good of the client. Sometimes what is asked of you and what is right do not always coincide.
  3. Loyalty towards work friends: Peggy Olson is on another one of her after-hours calls with Stan Rizzo, physically laughing, when her new boss walks in. Boss Ted Chaough kindly asks what was making her laugh. Stan was talking to her about the Heinz incident and SCDP not going after the Ketchup brand. The next day when she walks into the office, Ted has a folder for Peggy to prepare to go after Ketchup. Peggy says she cannot do that because she learned about it in confidence from a friend. Ted tells her “Maybe you need a friend more than you need a job,” ending the conversation with, “This is how wars are won.” Peggy is faced with a tough situation. Does she go after the potentially huge opportunity for the firm or stay loyal to her friend? If Peggy wants to stay at her current firm she will have to go after the account. Can she do that and still be loyal? Peggy is used to being loyal to Don Draper and SCDP, and that is one of the underlying issues here. Since SCDP is not going after the account, it would make the most sense to let Stan know that her firm is and leave it at that. That way she is letting her friend know their now-inside information while being loyal to her new boss. It may not be the war like Ted explained, since Don walked out with the white flag, but it will test Peggy’s loyalty.

These situations may play out very differently if Mad Men were set in today’s world. This idea of loyalty seems lost. What would you do if you were faced with these tough decisions? Would you rest on the laurels that your parents and grandparents taught you or would you take a chance?

Read the original article on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Ave at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=17337

How to Throw the Ultimate Mad Men Premiere Party

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mad_men_amc_tv_season_6Don those skinny ties and freshen up, it is Mad Men season. The highly anticipated season six of Mad Men is sure to break new ground, but since we have yet to know the year the show will be based in, let’s start where we left off. To throw a great Mad Men season premiere party you need a couple of things: friends, atmosphere and food. Let’s just assume you have the friends part covered and start with atmosphere, shall we?

To throw the ultimate Mad Men season six premiere party, there are a nine essentials to nail down, as follows:

  1. Music: Since music was one of the biggest reflections of 1960s culture it comes first on our list.  If you are a fan of the show you may already have a record player, but if not, ask a friend to bring one over. Next you want some great music to play. If you need records too, there are always local record shops happy to sell you some 45s (vintage singles). After all, it would not be very Mad Men of you to have a iPod playing the songs. However, if that is all you can find, it will do. Look for some of the billboard top 40 songs from the mid-1960s. If you are able to get a record player it is not a bad idea to pick up a copy of Jessica Pare singing Zou Bisou, Bisou on vinyl to really set the scene.
  2. Items from the set: What? How can I buy items from the show? You cannot. You can, however, find show-related items at local vintage or antique stores. In a recent excursion this weekend I went to four vintage shops and found a glass bottle of Patio, a lucky strike ad, a tie bar, a matchbook from a vintage Hilton Hotel, some skinny ties and a chip bowl made out of a 1960s Rolling Stones record. To throw a great Mad Men party you have to get creative, like Draper. Sometimes that means rummaging through someone’s old stuff. And yes, it is always worth it.
  3. Dress code: Set one. It is not only fun for a change but it keeps the atmosphere in check. If you do not want to buy clothes chances are you have something you can pull out of your closet that will fit the bill. Just watch the show for five minutes and you will get tons of ideas from Janie Bryant’s creative costume designs. Speaking of Bryant,  if you do not have anything in your closet, you can either go back to the vintage shops or pick up something from Janie’s new Banana Republic Mad Men collection. If all else fails, no jeans.
  4. Taste of the times: No pizza tonight folks. The food should reflect the era as well. That is not to say you must have a pot roast and baked Alaska. Just make sure that food ideas come from things that were popular or at least available in the 1960s. Assuming you are from a non-smoking household, grab a couple of packs of candy cigarettes.  Remember, this party is themed to stand out from a normal party at your house. Put a bowl of nuts out, unless you can find of bag of Utz potato chips. As a fan of Mad Men you may very well know, ‘Utz are better than nuts.’
  5. Remove the screens. Your TV is fine, of course, but leave smartphones and computers out of sight. You may actually remember how to interact with people without all of the modern distractions. Having a vintage phone in the kitchen would complete the look. This may be easier to find than you realize. I was able to find a mustard yellow rotary dial phone in my parent’s basement just a few weeks ago.
  6. Glimpse of the past. Achieve a glimpse into life in the 1960s by placing out a few vintage magazines on the ottoman. If nothing else, you and your friends will have a good laugh at all of the new and improved items that were all the rage back then. In my same excursion over the weekend I picked up 1966 editions of Life, Motor Trend, and Better Homes and Gardens magazines.
  7. Set the DVR. Two reasons here. The first is because if you miss any part of the episode while hosting the party you will probably want to catch up later. As an example, I think my wife and I watched a total of 10 minutes of the Super Bowl this year between the two of us. A second reason to set the DVR is to have some television on in the background. You can either play episodes of Mad Men season five from early morning reruns on AMC or 1960s programs that are currently on TV such as Dick Van Dyke, The Donna Reed Show, Andy Griffith, Bonanza, or Bewitched.
  8. Keep the party going. Cards were a popular way for adults to pass the time is years gone by. If you do not know how to play bridge, or you think it is just an efficient way to get over a body of water, charades was another popular game. You can also wander down to the art department and get some colored pencils for a lively game of Pictionary. Finally, as in Season 2 episode “The Jet Set,” you could play a game where one person names an international city and the next person has to use the last letter to name the next city, and so forth.
  9. Bar in your living room. I saved the best for last. You have secretly always wanted to do this and now you can; put a bar in your living room. Stock it heavily and get some tasty recipes from yesteryear. Start with the Mad Men cocktail guide or just do a little Google search for some of the classic drinks.  Heineken beer could also be on hand to pay homage to Betty’s around the world dinner party from the Season 2 Episode “A Night to Remember.”

The key is to have a different party-going experience. Try not to get wrapped up in the same party ideas, but please leave the John Deere riding lawnmower in the garage. For more tips, see the Mad Men Party Planner or watch any of the last five seasons of Mad Men for inspiration. And remember, no talking about the baby and Don gets the big steak.

An Exclusive Interview with Mad Men’s Janie Bryant

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janie_bryantMad Men is coming. The date has been announced for the premiere of Mad Men season six, and you can feel the excitement building. Fans are begging for details, but AMC has only allowed the release of a few glamorous cast photos. Who is behind the industry-changing costume design on Mad Men? Janie Bryant.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to sit down for an exclusive interview with Mad Men’s Emmy® award-winning costume designer. Throughout our 25-minute conversation, Bryant took a few moments to answer some questions that may be of interest to fans of Mad Men and readers at Talent Zoo. She reflected on her costume design choices, adding the ’60s style to clothing options in today’s ad agencies, and thoughts on a new clothing line.

Don: How does it feel to be responsible for changing the fashion industry with your Mad Men styling?

Janie: I’m glad we’re talking about this because, just so you know, I am not a stylist; I am a costume designer. It is about creating a story about the characters through costume design. They are completely different jobs. A lot of people don’t know there is a huge difference in professions. Styling is about developing someone’s own personal style. Costume design is about creating and telling the story of a character through their costumes. On Mad Men I design the costumes and I build from scratch, I rent from costume houses in Los Angeles, I work with vendors from around the country to purchase vintage clothing, and I often redesign vintage garments as well.

Don: Got it. I had no idea there was such a big difference. When you’re telling these stories through this costume design, you really changed how some people are dressing out there. Since the show started you’re seeing a lot more skinny ties, and a lot more of the tailored suits for the guys at least.

Janie:  And for the women, too. It’s been incredible to see this whole fashion movement and designers being inspired from my work. I come from a fashion design background. That was my first career and I moved into costume design. I have always felt like costume design was one of the characters of this show in particular, because in the 1960s so many things happened during the decade, not only in terms of fashion but also socially and politically.

Don: That would definitely be a lot of pressure.

Janie: I don’t mind the pressure. I love period design. I really do I love it. And I love that people have been so influenced by the show. I love that the fashion industry has been inspired by the show. I love that there has been a whole movement in men’s and women’s wear that is based around the costume design of the show too. I love it.

Don: That is absolutely great. We were talking about how your clothing choices in Mad Men really speak as much for the characters as their dialogue. Do you ever second guess any of your clothing choices, and which characters are the most difficult to dress?

Janie: Well, it is all about careful balance. Of course there are at times when, yes, I do change things around but it’s also about instincts and really using those instincts. We shoot each episode of Mad Men within eight days so there is not a lot of time for changing or rethinking things. Also, it is just about knowing the character. I’ve been the costume designer on Mad Men since season one so I really know them well. I have lived with these characters for a long time, but not quite as long as Matt Weiner, the amazingly brilliant creator of Mad Men. With six seasons in, I have my color palette for each of the characters and their silhouettes set. I like to maintain some kind of continuity of their silhouettes and carry that through each episode, but again, it really depends on what is going on with the script. It all starts there. It’s about reading the script. It’s about breaking it down. It’s about understanding what the characters are saying to each other. It’s about understanding the mood or the tone of each script and how that character is going to best show the emotions of each scene through their costumes.

Don: Out of all of the characters, which one is the most difficult to dress?

Janie: I don’t really approach it that way because it’s not really about that for me. It is more about the challenges of what I want to say with each scene. Also, it’s more about the pure volume of people. It is more about figuring out how all of these pieces are going to fit and work together. I like to approach it essentially when there are all the principles in one scene and all of the background characters in one scene as like it was a painting.

Don: That is a very intriguing thought. The landscape of office attire today is very casual compared to the Mad Men era. What do you think the impact would be on today’s workforce if the same standard of professionalism and style existed today?

Janie: [laughs] I wouldn’t call the Mad Men guys very professional — grabbing women’s asses and drinking in the office. I don’t think one era is better than the other; I think it is an evolution. We definitely live in a more casual and comfortable period of time. Do I think it looks better to be dressed up and all put together? Yes, but I don’t know if we can ever really go back to that way of being so put together and not being comfortable. People are used to being comfortable now.

Don: I understand completely. That is a very good point.

Janie: It can be compared like this — would people in the 1960s wear corsets like they did in the Victorian era? No. If you look at all of the different decades, each really gets more and more casual. Then again, I think people have also been inspired lately to dress up more and really do understand that different way of how they feel when they’re really dressed up. They understand the feeling of looking great as opposed to when they’re not taking as much care. I think it’s about education and I think it’s about knowing how to dress up. There is a time and place for everything, you know.

Don: So along with that, when you’re looking at the characters, they look so put together. It’s definitely a different style and era.

Janie: That’s called permanent press fabric. The fabrics of that period were engineered to not wrinkle. It’s a whole permanent press era. That’s why so many of the fabrics were blends. That was the whole trend to stay pressed all day long in that period. Our fabrics are different today.

Don: That is very true; most clothes today are 100% cotton. You don’t see many blends out there.

Janie: Yes, and thankfully not. They don’t breathe. That’s why manufacturers stopped making them. The trend is different now. It’s more comfort. It’s breathable fabrics that are not focused on being permanently pressed. It’s about being permanently distressed [laughs].

Don: So, how do you recommend advertising professionals today add Mad Men vintage flair to their work attire?

Janie: Well, I’m a huge fan of menswear, and whether I am designing the suits for the cast or I’m renting vintage suits, it’s all about proper tailoring. As far as the ’60s era, it’s the skinny ties, the skinny lapel, and flat front trousers. Men were also wearing a lot of accessories in that period like tie bars, cuff links, monogrammed belts, beautiful watches, bracelets, pinky rings and so much more. For the men, it was definitely a time of accessories. And for the women, again, it’s about having clothes fit to your body. I always recommend people having a good tailor or seamstress. For the women, the design has really changed from when we first started the show to season five. Then [season one] it was all about the sheath and now [season five] the times have changed and definitely more of a square and architectural shape became the fashion. The thing is for women it is really hard to say what exactly is that Mad Men look. Iconically, I’m sure everybody thinks of Joan in her tight-fitting sheaths and her wiggle dresses. Now it’s about Megan in her Zou Bisou Bisou minidress.

Don: Sure, it’s all about finding your niche and seeing what works best for you.

Janie: Exactly.

Don: Do you have any future plans of creating your own fashion label? Would it take a page from the Mad Men era or would it be completely unique?

Janie: I do. It will be unique to my designs. As a costume designer I am working from the Mad Men scripts and I love the period. I love the ’60s. It’s a great period, but as far as my own design aesthetic, my brand is much more modern glamorous and sexy with an edge. But hopefully soon you’ll see that. [laughs]

Don: Soon, yes. I know a lot of people are asking you questions about upcoming things. On Twitter I see a lot of people are asking you questions about season six of Mad Men.

Janie: I know, I can’t tell you anything about that.

Don: I understand. I actually think it is funny that people ask because everyone knows how tight the set is and everything.

Janie: We’re all hush-hush around here. As for other current projects I’ve been working with some amazing brands. I’ve worked with Banana Republic on the Mad Men collection and we have just announced our third collaboration, which is really exciting. Last year I worked with Maidenform on designing their 90th anniversary capsule collection and I still work as their brand ambassador. Also, I’ve been working with Hearts on Fire®, a diamond company which I love. Then I’ve been working with oneCARE company on a product called Downy Wrinkle Releaser® for fabric care. I love textiles and fabrics and have been working with them a lot, which has been great.

Don: It sounds like you’re staying pretty busy then.

Janie: [laughs] Well it has been busy, but it’s been really fun and really creative. I’m just working on it day by day.

Day by Day is the only way for someone as motivated as Janie to work. Her costume design on Mad Men is so spot-on that it almost feels wrong to call them costumes. It is almost more believable to think she took a DeLorean back to 1962 and filled the trunk of with as much clothes as she could. If you didn’t think working on the set of Mad Men was enough, she is brand ambassador to three brands, wrote a book called The Fashion File, designed three lines for Banana Republic, and is working on her own future line. There are four big takeaways from our conversation: find a good tailor; approach challenging situations like artwork, making every brushstroke count; to be successful like Janie you must have passion and love for what you do, and; as much as you ask, you will never get a spoiler on Mad Men.

Janie is clearly a large part of the genius behind the success of Mad Men. How has her costume design affected you? Discuss.

Article originally published on Talent Zoo at: http://www.talentzoo.com/news/An-Exclusive-Interview-with-Mad-Men-s-Janie-Bryant/16784.html