Stand By Your Vision

May 6, 2013
scene from Mad Men

Last night’s Mad Men episode was one of my favorites of the season. The content would still make my parents blush but the elements of business, client management and strategic direction are a lot of fun to watch. It’s noteworthy that Mad Men has more adult viewers aged 25-54 with household income greater than $100,000 of any show on cable. People in business love this show. I think anyone who has experienced landing or losing a large client can’t help but contemplate what the characters’ personal distractions might mean to their business and to a greater extent, the idea of managing clients on the merit of your work and the marriage of your creative vision and the client need. The big names are fun too. Jaguar. Heinze. Chevy. Vicks. One thing has not changed over the last 6 seasons; the creative vision of Don Draper.

Define Your Vision

It is important that companies have a defined vision. A previous Mad Men business lesson was knowing who you are, an apropos theme given the seemingly fruitless quest for identity demonstrated by Roger on the therapists couch and Don on the bed of half of the wives in Manhattan. But having a vision, and articulating that vision end where execution begins. Blogger Kelli Claypool maps out a good starting point for putting your business vision on paper http://drmommyonline.com/why-a-vision-statement-is-vital-to-the-success-of-your-business. Harvard Business Review writers James Collins and Jerry Porras take it a step further. In a dated article http://hbr.org/1996/09/building-your-companys-vision/ they talk about the importance of maintain vision in the midst of changing landscapes. The concept of core ideology and envisioned future is an interesting one. “ The Walt Disney Company’s core values of imagination and wholesomeness stem not from market requirements but from the founder’s inner belief that imagination and wholesomeness should be nurtured for their own sake.”

Stick to It

Mad Men are ad men. They are in a business that requires a deep level of understanding about human psychology and American consumer habits in an age where data and demographics have not come to inform the advertising game. Understanding a client’s needs and desires and those of the consumer are prerequisite to the creative drafting table. The irony of Mad Men is that a man incapable of understanding himself has an innate ability to understand the desires of others and that is a vision from which SCDP has rarely deviated and why they have been successful, despite themselves. Check out this clip from an early episode.

It crystallizes the creative vision of Don Draper, which is to say the vision of SCDP.