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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

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