I’ve only been watching Mad Men when it airs on TV here in India, so I know I’m late in. but I watched the episode Blowing Smoke last night, and it reminded me of why I like the show. Yes, the characterizations are great, the acting is brilliant, the story touches on the politics of the era and doesn’t shy away from the ickiness (like the sexual harassment every woman on the show seems subject to, in one way or another). But what I like most, what really makes me sit up and watch, is the ad-making and the display of marketing strategy.
When their biggest client Lucky Strike fires the agency and everyone’s floundering, Don Draper makes a move. He puts up an ad in the New York Times where he writes about tobacco and its hazards, and why the agency would no more work on tobacco accounts.
It’s a move so bold as to be crazy. The other partners are furious: tobacco is a big advertising spender, and even if Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce reversed its stand, no tobacco company would be stupid enough to come to them after publicly disparaged one of their clients.