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What You Can Learn About Digital Marketing from Mad Men

Online Marketing

If you’re anything like us, you were fervently awaiting the Season 6 premiere of AMC’s period drama Mad Men.  And while the 2 hour opening episode seemed to drag on a little longer than we had anticipated, we were one of the 3.4 million people who tuned in to see the latest exploits of our favorite marketing agency.  While the technology and the tactics of marketing and advertising are certainly vastly different, the underlying methods and themes of the work we do today is surprisingly similar to those of Don Draper and the Gang.  Here are the 3 takeaways we have really noticed about branding and marketing, from the men and women of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce:

1. Know Your Customer:

In Season 1, cosmetic company Belle Jolie wanted an ad campaign that highlighted their extensive lipstick color collection.  However Don, with some help from Peggy, convinced them that their target audience of young women would not react well to message; as Don put it “No woman wants to be one in a box of a hundred”.   The agency really researched and understood the target demographic, and wrote specific, successful copy aimed specifically at them.

Segmenting and targeting your markets is an extremely important aspect of digital marketing.  From SEO to paid search, knowing who your customers are and what motivates them is the difference between success and failure.


2. Analytics Will Always Be Important:

In Season 4, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce enlists the help of Dr. Faye Miller to research ad campaigns and to measure their results.  This is the first time on the show that we ever see any scientific basis or follow-up for a campaign.

Any digital marketer knows the importance of numbers, analytics, and metrics to a campaign, no matter the type.  While Mad Men promotes the slick design and emotional pull of copywriting and advertising, it shows here in Season 4 that you have to have the numbers to back it up, too.


3. But Content Will Always Be Key:

One element of advertising that Mad Men always emphasizes is the importance of the copy in the ads.  The art and design is sleek and impressive, but interchangeable.  What is really highlighted in each presentation is the content, and the connotations and emotions that each tagline and bit of copy will provoke.  Sometimes, this can backfire on the intrepid group, such as Don’s gloomy “The Jumping Off Point” pitch in the Season 6 opener.  The problems and products change, but what really resonates in each ad is the compelling content.

Content marketing is a critical component of digital marketing; SEO, paid search, lead generation, and social media marketing all rely heavily on the positive influences of creating and distributing consistent, quality content.  And this has evolved past the simple tagline and ad copy of Mad Men to include webinars, whitepapers and other assets; blog posts and social media updates; and website content and copy.  All of these elements must be clear, well written, and resonate with your audience (and be targeted to that audience!).


Welcome back, Don.  We missed you.  Even if you are misbehaving again.