Every writer and marketer could learn a thing or two from Don Draper – the anti-hero of AMC’s hit series Mad Men, which is set in the swinging 60s world of advertising.
Born from dirt, Don is a verbal Superman who uses his unique outlook on life to articulate his way into influence, money, and creative success.
Isn’t that the recipe all us marketing raconteurs are looking for?
Don is marble-handsome, but his steely stare and flawless assembly of words are what allow him to own every conversation with an eyebrow’s worth of effort.
Learn to use your words as well as Don Draper, and you, too, can articulate your way into influence, money, and creative success.
Let’s start with some of Don’s thoughts, from advertising to what women truly want.
Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is Okay. You are Okay.
Done well, advertising sends a whisper to your impulses – a primal wind at the back of your neck, suggesting where to go and what to do.
Flashy advertising works, but its half-life is dim. Make people feel something, especially happiness, and they will remember and act. Bonus points if your happiness solves their sadness.
Nostalgia literally means the pain from an old wound. It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we are loved.
We all long for the way we
were. Even the most adventurous among us craves the sublime comfort of the familiar.
Many writers and marketers understand this human need, but Don tumbles the thought by reminding us that true nostalgia isn’t a deep longing for the past so much as an affectionate feeling for a future that feels like a friend.
If you don’t like the conversation, change it.
When Don’s firm, Sterling Cooper, loses their largest account – Lucky Strike Cigarettes – the partners and foot soldiers in the firm run around in circles.
Don turns the tables, proudly declaring his firm will only do business with those companies unwilling to put their consumers at risk. Not only does this save Sterling Cooper from being the laughing stock of Madison Avenue, it pushes them ahead of the trends.
When a man walks into a room, he brings his whole life with him. He has a million reasons for being anywhere; just ask him. If you listen, he’ll tell you how he got there. How he forgot where he was going, and that he woke up. If you listen, he’ll tell you about the time he thought he was an angel or dreamt of being perfect. And then he’ll smile with wisdom, content that he realized the world isn’t perfect. We’re flawed, because we want so much more. We’re ruined, because we get these things, and wish for what we had.
People tend to dilute their regret or justify previous behavior. We are all slaves to habit, most of the time. When writers stoke the fires that make us feel remorse or reprieve, we are willing to answer with our wallets.
Just so you know, the people who talk that way think that monkeys can do this.