Contemplating communication changes since the Mad Men era

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Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), Roger Sterling (John Slattery), Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks)
Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

Before we start this post about our favourite 1960s show, we have a warning: it’s been typed using a Hermes 3000 Mint Green Portable Typewriter with a missing letter that follows b. Obviously we *an’t type it be*ause it isn’t working. So we’ve repla*ed it with *.

Typewriter dilemmas aside, we’re all very ex*ited about the return of Peggy, Betty, Don and Joan. What will they be like 17 months on?

In less than 9 days the Mad Men (and women) of Sterling *ooper Draper Pry*e will be ba*k on our Australian s*reens. The wait has been ex*ru*iating – parti*ularly given the fa*t our Ameri*an friends have been ba*k in the sixties for over a week now. Those lu*ky devils.

The tremendously su**essful US *able television program premiered its fifth season in the USA last month. The period drama set in the 1960s details life in a fi*tional Madison Avenue advertising agen*y where men still hold the power and women are portrayed as se*retaries, housewives and models who ought to know their pla*e.

It has be*ome one of the most su**essful and highly a**laimed *able shows ever, with *riti*s praising its histori*al a**ura*y; authenti*ally show*asing the *hanging attitudes and moods of Ameri*a in the 60s.

Not only are women treated as se*ond-*lass *itizens, the ‘*oloured’ folk hold medial jobs on the show – although from the blogs we’re reading this is all about the *hange (well slowly). Only half a *entury later the fa*e of advertising and *ommuni*ations in general has *hanged dramati*ally. As has so*iety as a whole, men alone don’t hold all the power anymore.

Fast-forward fifty years and Australia has its first female prime minister and the United States of Ameri*a has Obama. These two people alone show how far our two *ountries and western so*iety has progressed. Advertising and the way information is disseminated to the general publi* has also *hanged dramati*ally sin*e the 1960s when advertising was thought to be the sole way to *ommuni*ate with the publi*.

The role of the publi* relations pra*titioner was barely defined and newspapers *overed the events of the day – without a press release. Today, as mu*h as half of a newspaper’s *ontent *an *ome from a *ompany or its PR or *ommuni*ations professionals.

The other *hange is that *ompanies need to be more transparent than ever — something only just taking shape in Mad Men. When the show begins in 1960, Ameri*ans are only just finding out about the dangers of smoking, something that Sterling *ooper, the fi*tional agen*y tries to avoid when *reating advertisements for its *lient Lu*ky Strike. Today’s *onsumers not only want to know what is in the food they eat, they also want to know how and where the produ*ts are made. The past fifty years have seen a dramati* shift in so*ial *ons*ious, morals and environmental awareness. No longer will *onsumers blindly buy produ*ts and believe the *laims advertisers and *ommuni*ators make about them.

Unlike Mad Men, men AND women must be straightforward with *lients and *onsumers and respe*t their intelligen*e. In the age of so*ial media, transparen*y and integrity is not only rewarded but a must. In the *yber age if you mislead your publi*s it won’t be long before someone finds out you weren’t telling the whole truth. It is obvious the benefits that *ome from building a trust based relationship, su*h as repeat business. So while some may wat*h Mad Men and yearn for the simpler times of one-way *ommuni*ation, *onsumers are keeping *ompanies honest, and that benefits so*iety as a whole.

Another *hange that we think is worth noting, is that in the Mad Men era, lots of people reading this would be in another job or unemployed be*ause your job simply didn’t exist. Peggy ponders: “What’s a blogger?”

So how did we stay o**upied for the past 17 months between martinis? We’ve re-wat*hed the fist four seasons of the show, read – from *over to *over – a new book by a real Madison Avenue advertising exe*utive of the 1960s – a Mad Woman *alled Jane Maas, and pra*ti*ed the art of martini drinking.

OK, now to fix the typewriter & *ra*k into a day of *ommuni*ations in the year 2012.

*heers from Ja*k and the * word *rew

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