What “Mad Men” can teach us marketers

Yes, I have a serious Mad Men addiction, but this post isn’t about Don Draper or the other mesmerizing characters on the best TV series ever produced. It’s about how the show exemplifies our obsession with looking good and marketing ourselves.

Most of humanity’s deep-seated drive to be attractive (not just physically) hit home for me shortly after Oprah promoted the author Eckhart Tolle. I finally read his book, THE NEW EARTH. Tolle writes about our need to build up our egos at the expense of others.

At the same time, I’ve been involved in a summer-long writing workshop with Ian Graham Leask, Twin Cities literary consultant, author, publisher. In our last meeting, the group discussed how we’re all engaged in the endless quest to ‘look good,’ not just physically but professionally, socially, and intellectually.

We are driven by our egos to impress others so they will value, admire, even love us. Most of what we do (I admit, I’m a prime example) is done in an attempt to be liked, to appear superior, appealing, smart, expert or funny so others will be drawn to us. Case in point: this blog and all the other bloggers out there. We all want to have our say, attract some attention and market ourselves. No wonder Technorati estimated there were over 200 million blogs at the start of 2009, with exponential growth slated for 2010 and 2011. Current estimates: 450 million ‘active’ English language blogs, according to SEO – Focused Web Content Writers. Wow!

A surprising number of our daily activities are focused on marketing ourselves, i.e. most runners do it to look thin, , writers write to appear smart, people earn MBAs or PhDs (not for love of knowledge) to impress an employer. Ad men like Don Draper, as well as our entire consumer culture, has been making a fortune off our insatiable need to look good in every way possible for the past century. Go Don.

Mad Men’s season 4 cast photo on Flickr, by tigerlilyO

About the Author: Maureen Fischer is QuirkyMarketing’s author and resident conversationalist. She provides content marketing–both strategy and execution–to clients in a range of industries.

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