Tis the Season!
I’m watching Mad Men reruns again and the magnificent character, Don Draper. I’m even more wowed now, not just by the changes in culture since the 60s, but the changes since the show’s finale three years ago. If the ad execs weren’t called on the carpet for sexual harassment today, they’d be standing on line for liver transplants.
Much changes and then plenty remains the same. Like what creative looks like and what it demands of us.
In my latest episode, Don heads to the office for a potential client meeting with Jantzen, a “family values” swimwear company bleeding sales on their two-piece bathing suit that they refuse to call what Don sees it is—a bikini.
Frustrated, Draper tells them flat out: “Your competitors are going to keep killing you, because you’re too scared of the skin that your two-piece was designed to show off.”
That line got me. Because over the years, I’ve seen this with clients from bestselling authors to start-ups to Fortune l00s. And in all the books I have written, too. We build, we fear what we’ve created, (I feel for you, Dr. Frankenstein); we lose enthusiasm for our vision and then try to throw money at it to make it sound less scary.
What’s simple gets more and more complicated. We tell stories that hide ourselves from ourselves and they end up not branding us or driving sales where we want them to go.
We’re afraid to be wrong.
When this episode opened, Don was being interviewed by Ad Age Magazine. First question: “Who is Don Draper?” “I’m from the Midwest,” Don answered. “We are raised believing it’s impolite to talk about ourselves.”
Then he left a missed opportunity for his agency on the table.
It was the moment when Don refused to try another comp or three to please Jantzen, that he could say with conviction to them, “gentlemen, hope you enjoyed peeking in the window.”
Once Don declares himself to Jantzen and shows what he’s designed to show off—everything changes for him.
“Take your things and get out! This is what creative looks like.”
For us, the transformation doesn’t likely happen overnight. It’s not scripted and the work of being ourselves never ends. That’s what creative demands.
But a new year is beginning. And if you’re not (I hope), giving up on yourself or your business and are thinking it’s time to try things differently; I’d like to talk to you.
Over the holidays, I’m here cleaning up my office and if there’s any way I can help you, or if you just have a question, please e-mail me.
In the meantime, I wish you loving holidays and “Mad Men” success in 2018.
And as always, I am grateful to you for reading!