Like many college students, I found almost any excuse to reward myself with a Netflix binge. The show “Mad Men” fed into my love of the 1960s and the growing advertising industry. The show depicts the migration of opinions and highlights several progressive moments that have affected the U.S. to this day, especially the advertising industry.

Not only was I challenged to evaluate their time period and industry, but those influences affected how I view and create designs now.

Everything Needs an Identity

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Don Draper, the show’s main protagonist, is the creative director at an agency and consistently pushes his department to dig deeper into an account. Each brand has a story, and each story needs to be told in an effective and interesting way. He pushes more out of each person and demands the best quality for their accounts.

I use this idea of developing a brand’s story into my own workflow.  And I use it at the beginning of a project to give myself a clear direction. There are thousands of products out there–some very similar to the one I’m trying to promote. So what is its charm? What tells their audience this is the right product for them compared to all of the other ones? Figure out these answers, and the process becomes a lot easier.

When in Doubt, Try It Out

Courtesy of Giphy

Courtesy of Giphy

Certain clients’ industries are not easy to relate to, and to sell a product, you should know its purpose. There were several real products featured on “Mad Men,” Heinz ketchup for one, and the creative department needed to test it out. What could their audience do with it? How would it make their lives better? Would they come back for more?

It’s beneficial for the marketer to test their client’s product or service out to appropriately depict how good their audience will feel after using it. After all, you wouldn’t promote a television series unless you’ve seen at least one episode, right?

Gender Always Applies

Courtesy of Giphy

Courtesy of Giphy

Peggy Olson and Joan Harris are the main female figures at the agency who rose from their starting secretarial positions. Peggy comes into season 1 hoping to land a copywriter position. She proves she’s worthy enough for this new role but has to work twice as hard as the male copywriters to even get a glance. And even then she often wonders if Don appreciates the work she does.

Although times have moved past this confining period, fair wage and equal opportunity is still an ongoing concern within this country. Additionally, if you are actively reading and watching advertisements in today’s world, sex matters. Marketers look at their target audience and try to figure out what they want, especially from the opposite sex.

More Work Means More Sacrifice

Courtesy of Giphy

Courtesy of Giphy

A majority of the main executives at the agency have either been married several times or have never gotten married. Plus, many are hard drinkers and smoke several packs of cigarettes a day. The toll on their mental and physical health can be seen throughout the course of the show.

The agency’s leaders are constantly at the office assisting clients and helping promote to their audience but forgetting their own families back at home. Don is one of the guiltier parties in this case because he doesn’t notice his marriage is failing. Plus, his kids, primarily Sally, act out at times to get his attention.

I’ve learned that work, in any industry, is needed in moderation. If you have too much of anything, it can kill you. I enjoy working with people and producing great designs, but nothing truly beats spending time with your friends and family.

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