Mad Men was great last night, as usual. We got to see the new copywriter make what all creatives in advertising know as a client meeting faux pas: revealing unapproved ideas to the client, and in the process, undermining the creative director. That’s a big no, no. Which Michael Ginsberg learned last night. At least, we hope he learned it.
I’m not going to go into my usual feminist rants about how Peggy should have been the one presenting pantyhose ideas in the first place. Because the true heroine of last night’s episode was Joan, and it had nothing to do with advertising. It had to do with personal boundaries and self respect. I don’t want to be that much of a spoiler, so I’ll just say that the courage it took for Joan to do what she did speaks volumes for how empowered women were becoming in that era, how they had grown tired of being put at the bottom of the world’s priority list, especially the lists of men. She stood her ground and said, “this is not good enough for me.” I’ve never been more proud of a fictional character than I was of her.
Then, we had to get into The Pitch, where I don’t know why I was surprised to see an ex-boss on the WDCW team. It’s been years since I worked in Los Angeles, but when I did I worked at Ground Zero for Court Crandall, who couldn’t get a word in edge-wise against Tracy Wong and all his zAMbie enthusiasm.
The Pitch might have been entertaining for people who have never lived this lifestyle, but it was a bit unnerving to us (my husband and I are both in advertising). We kept saying the only good thing about watching it was that we didn’t have to work on it ourselves. Phew!
My main issue with it was that it reminded me of the most painful parts of working in advertising: the grueling hours, the harsh criticism from creative directors who often lack the social skills to motivate their teams properly, the fact that creative directors present work they didn’t create themselves, ripping all the passion out of it in the process, the clients who often don’t appreciate that the reasons we try to be as creative as possible is because we want people to actually watch their commercials. Their criticism that the ideas didn’t make food look appetizing made me cringe because I’ve heard it a thousand times. People aren’t watching TV to be seduced into eating something. They are watching TV to be entertained. And people like those who entertain them.
As for what I thought of the ideas, I thought McKinney’s line “Let’s fix breakfast” nailed it. But the execution fell flat. I would have asked the creative team to come up with several different ways to execute that line, then gone with the best one. Also, I would have let the team who created it, present it.
McKinney’s rap idea was kind of lame, but I agree with them that it had the most appeal to their target audience. It probably would have invaded the culture and gotten people talking, which is the best thing advertising can do, basically because viral ideas that generate word-of-mouth buzz turn into multitudes of free advertising for the client. It’s hard to beat that.
I didn’t like the zAMbie’s idea at all. I thought it was “borrowed interest” without having any entertainment value. And I thought it was designed poorly. Plus, it was kind of arrogant to go in there with only one idea. I’ve seen this done before, and it often works, but it’s risky. In this case, they risked losing. And, to quote my husband, “Zombies eat brains. That’s not something I want to be thinking about while I’m eating breakfast.”