TOM ORMES: Why I’d like to be a Mad Man – and why I wouldn’t

Tom Ormes is creative director of iris Singapore and a former vice president, senior writer at DraftFCB. Here he considers Mad Men agency Sterling Cooper 2.0.

“Over the last few years, if I had a dollar for everytime someone said to me “I wish agencies today were like in Mad Men where everyone had a whiskey bar at their desk, where you could get hammered at 10am and stumble into meetings and abuse the client, smoke wherever you want, and when casting calls meant the couch”, I reckon I’d have at least $25.50 (or thereabouts). 

Don and the boys do a good job of making the era truly look like the glory days of advertising. It was a time when a secretary’s position wasn’t always tied to the desk (well, not always). When office parties weren’t scheduled, they were from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday. And when you could bring a gun into the office that wasn’t of the Nerf variety. 

Get me a DeLorean and take me back. Now. 

But then I started thinking about it. Was Sterling Cooper all it was cracked up to be? Maybe the classic office furniture of the 50s was all just a facade for a bunch of hacks sitting around getting pissed and screwing each other. Maybe things are just as good in agency land circa 2010. Maybe they’re better..

As creatives these days we don’t have to comb our hair. We don’t have to go through the hassle of learning how to tie a tie. We don’t have to polish our shoes. We don’t even have to shower. But it doesn’t end at the obvious fashion advantages. 

Our ads aren’t restricted to just B&W print. We’re encouraged to attempt the injection of an idea into our work – something Donald never had the luxury of. And we’re not restricted to bad puns (ok, this bit isn’t ideal). 

Look at the mediascape today compared to the good ‘ole days. Digital, social networking, micro blogging, interactive outdoor, mobile, apps, consumer engagement, and yep, even TV and print as well. This is all fun stuff. How do you think Don et al would’ve handled all of this between sips and shags?

How do you think they would have approached a campaign that wasn’t just about a product shot and a starburst, but was about creating a new social movement or trend that consumers actually (gasp) want to be a part of?
Hang on, advertising that people want to engage with? That sounds new. 

Put that in your pipe, Don.” 

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About Tom Ormes

Tom Ormes is creative director of iris Singapore. He is a former vice president, senior writer at DraftFCB New York.