Contemplating communication changes since the Mad Men era


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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