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September 14, 2008

Mad Men and the Future of the 1950's

I like the show Mad Men. A very authentic program about the men of Madison avenue, the Ad Men, who shaped our world with images of beautiful cool white people enjoying their lives.
Apart from the drama, which I enjoy, the reason I really like Mad Men is that it is authentic. Everybody did smoke, men were chauvinists, black people were downtrodden, and everybody drank like it was going out of fashion.

One of the classic lines from the show was when one of the characters, speaking about his daughter, said “I can’t wait until she is another mans problem”.

They have gone to a lot of trouble. We didn’t use seatbelts back then, kids did dive from the back seat to the front seat (even when I was a kid), and we smoked indoors, in trains, in bed, and in front of anyone at all.

And we think: “Wow, can you believe people used to be like that?”

It is refreshing to see. I say refreshing because most TV series, movies or whatever, tend to revise the history as if it were like today – but with different clothing.

In these movies no-one smokes, women are liberated, drinking is controlled, and everyone wears their seat belts and so on. You get the picture, the fairy tale land that never existed.

The truly fascinating thing for me, and I’m not sure that the writers were that cognizant of this, is that their work – just like their lifestyles, no longer exist.

They lived in the golden time when all they needed to do was get a good graphic, with a capturing slogan or angle, and poof - more money for the advertisers.

Advertising wasn’t a part of marketing – it was marketing!

Today, marketing is viral. I look at all of the things I do and I cannot recall ever seeing an advertisement for one of them.

My internet experience is dominated by Google. I have lived in most of the world now, and watched television in several languages and countries. Yet I have never seen an advertisement for Google.

The same goes for the authors I read. I read about Daniel Pink in a book by Tom Peters, I saw Tom Peters on YouTube, which is where I discovered Seth Godin also. I read about LinkedIn on a Blog by Guy Kawasaki, and I found out about Guy from a friend of mine Mr Alan Mather in the UK.

I am publishing my new book through, I run most of my webinars through, and work with And I have never seen an ad for any of them, not ever, in any medium at all.

You can imagine the write up of a show based in the early 21st century in 20 years time…

It’s very authentic, the time when some mail was still hand delivered, and business travel was rampant, and most people were employees.

Can you imagine that people used to buy information written on paper that they bought in the street and then threw away?

Believe it or not people used to think that words and images, thrust in front of people who weren’t looking for it was the way to advertise.

Strange days indeed…can you even imagine a time when change was not the over riding issue in life and business?

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