Mad Men, the Coke Ad, and How Agencies Change with the Times

May 21, 2015

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Man Men

Saying goodbye is hard. Sometimes changing is even harder.

As the curtains fell on Don Draper and the rest of the Mad Men characters this past Sunday, audiences were given a “choose your own journey” for the protagonist. Did Don finally find peace and enlightenment sitting cliff-side in California? Are we to believe that he, in that moment, came up with a brilliant new idea for Coke which would become the iconic Coca-Cola “Hilltop” ad?

No matter which path you chose to believe, one thing about Mad Men was always clear – time passes, culture shifts, and technology improves; all of which are reflected in popular media and the way brands communicate with consumers.

Mad Men reminds us that in order to create compelling and successful work we must understand and keep up with the world around us. Don Draper, consummate 1960’s impresario, was forced to confront the changing times upon that cliff-side in California, and in doing so he perhaps created one of the great ad campaigns. Prior to doing so it can be argued that he was stuck in the past, unable to change and unwilling to make his work relevant. By changing his mindset – maybe even conducting some impromptu market research – he made an ad that resonated with consumers because it reflected their ideals.

Like Don Draper, advertising agencies should be open to changes happening around them and consider how that can be reflected in their own work, lest they be left behind.


Phil Decoteau is an Associate Director of Digital at Norbella and is the self-proclaimed #1 Mad Men fan in the world. He is currently in mourning since the show has ended.