Now Mad Men rescues the advertising industry

A slight exaggeration perhaps but, as Lisa van der Pool reports here, some US agencies are reporting that the show’s fame (notoriety?) is prompting a wave of interest from potential recruits that the business hasn’t experienced for years.

But what is attracting them? Is it the boozing and womanising and all-round bad behaviour or, as some think, the peek it gives you into the creative process and life on the edge in an ad agency, where every day can be the company’s last?

There’s no doubt that the business has lost its mojo over the past couple of decades, suffering waves of redundancies through various recessions and a client squeeze on margins that has taken away its status as the best-paid business on earth (and sometimes as much of a game as a business).

The current series is about our heroes’ new venture Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, a start-up after the boys (and a few girls) evacuated big agency Sterling Cooper. And it does indeed demonstrate the white-knuckle nature of such enterprises.

Whether or not it also casts a light on the reality of working for one of the big marcoms companies (WPP, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe, Interpublic and Havas) is more debatable. But even there if you lose the business you may well lose your job or, these days, have to accompany the account to an agency you never intended to work for. What you probably don’t get is the fun, or not as much of it anyway.

And the Mad Men sexism? One doubts that advertising back in the 1960s was any more sexist than any other business (Mary Wells didn’t do badly). And women these days occupy commanding heights at numerous agencies large and small although PAs still seem valued for their decorative aspects.

And then there’s digital…

Maybe that’s the attraction of Mad Men. Not a computer in sight.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.