Tag Archives: Mad Men

Mad Men’s Roger Sterling offers advice.

In the latest episode of Mad Men the bumbling Englishman, Lane Pryce, is nervous about making his first ever pitch to a prospect over dinner.


 He seeks advice from Roger Sterling, who has all the best lines and clients eating, (drinking and smoking) out of his hands.

“It’s kind of  like being on a date”

“Flattery, I suppose?”.


“Within reason but I find it’s better to smile, sit there like you got no place to go and just let him talk. Somewhere in the middle of the entree they’ll throw in something revealing and you want to wait to dessert to pounce on it and let him know you’ve got the same problem he has. And then you’re in a conspiracy, the basis of, quote, friendship.Then you whip out the form.” (Client questionnaire)

“What if I don’t have  the same problem, if he is more reserved?”

“Just reverse it. Feed him your own personal. That’s it. Get your answer. Be nice to the waiter Don’t let him do the cheque…….and find out everything you can about him before you get there.”

Not so mad Mad Men.

 You do not have to be an ex-ad man, or a pitch practitioner, to enjoy Mad Men but one of its great characteristics is the way it captures moments that make you wince, or envious, as they capture moments of competitive brio. One such features Don Draper at his inimitable best.


It was drawn to my attention by a former colleague, now a latter day Roger Stirling in Australia, as the best ever dramatised pitch. It’s the one where they pitch the name Carousel to Kodak. Check it out.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suRDUFpsHus 

Making an emotional connection!!

Mad Men, an ad man’s view

Most critics, and I share their views, have heaped praise on this superb period drama from a period not so long ago. With a career in advertising, that stretches back to the sixties, many of the images resonate strongly with me.  Four of them stand out. The ubiquitous cigarette,  the nonchalant sexism, the sleek coiffured hair and, yes, the pitch. How have they changed?

Perhaps the only real change is that offices are now smoke free zones, which is good. But it took 50 years or so and when Team Saatchi opened its doors 15 years ago, we were among the pioneers of no office smoking. Only in the last few years has it become the norm.  Mad Men can’t be helping anyone trying to quit right now.

Hair is still coiffured but with more imagination?  But Draper cannot compete with one of advertising’s most enduring, iconic images, a very British one, that of Dennis Compton, champion for Brylcreem, swashbuckling Test cricketer and England/Arsenal footballer.  Beckham, who?

Yes, of course we are more politically correct aren’t we? Mad Men wallows in “sexual banter not yet harrassment”. But a survey, only fifteen years ago, showed that of all creatives in advertising  less than 20% were women. Not a great leap forward.

Finally, the pitch. The props may have changed – relentless PowerPoint not an option, procurement a word related to sexual favours, below- the- line a dreary cousin and on-line beyond imagination – but the fundamentals remain.  The surge of focussed energy, the search for a winning strategy informed by client insight,( the search then less inhibited by political correctness) and the last minute ‘big idea.’

Add to this the casting ( who is today’s Don Draper?),and the performances needed to create compelling theatre on the day.   No change.