The Mad Men guide to advertising

The Mad Men guide to advertising
© AMC

The glossy world of advertising has always fascinated and has long provided the backdrop for television shows and films. From ad execs Darrin Stephens in Bewitched to Heather Locklear’s Amanda in Melrose Place … but has anyone ever fascinated quite like Don Draper in Mad Men? Mad Men takes us deep into the complex, fast-changing and political world of advertising as it evolves through major changes in the industry and cultural landscape. Even though the series is set in the 1960s, plenty about agency life still rings true and is just as relevant today.

Don Draper

Creative directors are the ideas gurus of any agency. They have paid their dues and worked their way up from what was most likely an unpaid internship as an art director or copywriter. While the client will ultimately decide whether ideas are used or not, the creative director will decide if the client will ever see it. Don is the quintessential creative director, with a penchant for finding simple truths to help sell products.

Peggy Olsen

Peggy is breaking the glass ceiling all over the place with her transition from receptionist to copywriter (and a few other plot twists I won’t spoil for you). Despite gender equality being a lot more equal now than in the 60s, the ad industry is still male dominated. Peggy also highlights the ability to change roles once you’re in an agency – a method some people use to nab the notoriously competitive role of ‘creative’.

Pete Campbell

Pete is fairly ruthless when it comes to work and women. He’s a stereotypical, determined young businessman trying to cut his teeth in the industry and get ahead at any cost. His inflated sense of self acts as both a professional help and hindrance. Put yourself in any corporate environment and you are likely to find someone just like Pete. 

Joan Holloway

The office manager is a good person to befriend in any workplace and Joan is no exception. She has her finger on the pulse of everything that goes on and can help you find your feet, not to mention get you the good stationery. Office managers can wield a lot of power, so don’t underestimate them. 

The whiskeys, cigarettes, beehives and overt sexism may have vanished from modern advertising offices, but the characters and the work are still compelling. See the range of online advertising courses available so you, too, can enter this mad world. 


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