I’m Not Don Draper, Thanks for Asking

Advertising is a broad term. When I tell people that I work for an ad agency, many times I get the response: “So, you’re like Don Draper from Mad Men?”. The answer I usually give is “No. I’m not that well-dressed, I’m happily married, and I just can’t drink that much, anymore”. While I typically use this response simply to get a cheap laugh (sometimes), it’s really not the main reason that Mr. Draper and I don’t share much in common. The real reason? Advertising just isn’t what it used to be. I watch Mad Men faithfully, and one of the things I enjoy is watching Don pitch his clients on archaic ideas and concepts that would never work today. Advertising and best practices has completely changed. Not just since the Don Draper heyday, but even over just the past few years.

Obviously, the Mad Men pitch is an extreme example of how advertising strategies change, because we’re talking about 55 year old campaigns. However, I can remember (not so long ago) that advertising channels such as banner ads and pop-up windows were considered cutting edge. Now, you rarely hear about any brand’s long-term strategy including ‘banner ad media buys’. So, what happened over such a short amount of time that killed off so many forms of marketing? Smarter consumers.

Consumers have been bombarded with so many banner, video, and pop-up ads that they’re immune, even annoyed, when subjected to them. As customers get wise to these forms of ads, they begin to decline in effectiveness and spur the need for new tactics and new methods that boast higher engagement and better conversions; hence the increase in marketing innovation and the emergence of native advertising. Instead of creating ads that simply ‘piggyback’ the site’s content, your ad should add value or relevancy and become part of the article or video. Don’t interrupt the customer experience, enhance it.

As the internet becomes a part of our everyday lives more and more each day, today’s consumers are given an extraordinary amount of power to inform themselves and research all of their purchasing decisions. We’re no longer required to believe the commercial we saw on television or the full page spread we found in a magazine. We can research these products ourselves, and make our own, well-informed decisions. For this reason, modern day agencies are forced to think very carefully about their marketing and media buying decisions to get the most out of their efforts, and their clients’ dollar.


What’s the moral of the story? Choose your agency carefully. In this digital age, the weather is changing every day, and you need a partner that knows which way the wind is blowing. Ask questions about strategy, execution, and measurable results. Look for things like transparency, and ask for project updates. Remember that your reputation is on the line. Looking for Don Draper? I’ve got nothing for you. Looking to build a brand? Pop the cork…

Mike Perri is the Digital Account Executive at Flying Cork.