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Madmen’s Don Draper is the latest proof that in advertising, the Idea is the Talent

Having met Matthew Weiner at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, I was assured that the seventh season opener of Madmen would not disappoint core fans.

But as an advertising agency CEO whose business is based on a model that builds a customized team of resources (including the creative team,) I never imagined that Madmen’s seventh season, episode #1 would read like a commercial for my agency.Mad Men Season 6 Finale Don Daper Jon Hamm - Photo/Video credit: AMC

Don Draper, the uber Creative Director is on a mandated leave of absence to rethink his approach to clients and prospects. Ex-account guy Freddy plays the front man, bringing the now independent-contracting Don Draper’s work (unbeknownst to his own agency) to his own agency. While the work is revered by Don’s protégé and creative soul mate Peggy Olsen, it is dismissed by the Acting Creative Director. A clearly superior concept for Accutron Watches dies before it is exposed to the client. Freddy is also feeding Don Draper’s concepts to other agencies’ powerhouse brands, such as 7UP.

Bottom line, outsourcing to superior creative talent to build clients’ brands has always been a solution; it was just a solution that was hidden from the client.  But now, creative talent entrepreneurism, technology and the clients’ severely increased demand for sales-generating advertising has removed the veil from this practice. Only the idea matters, not whether or not the idea generator is employed by the Agency.

And, hats off to Mathew Weiner, who tackles another major shift in the industry (commission-based versus fee-based compensation). By addressing two macro industry issues (outsourcing to superior creative talent and compensation methodologies), Mr. Weiner demonstrates the show’s authentic and intricate understanding of the ever-changing ad industry, while entertaining the audience with the soap operatic personal lives of the characters.

While in this episode, “freelancer” is still positioned as a dirty word, it is clear that the concept of the best ideas coming from on- or off-staff talent is not only valid, but it also may be what is best for a clients’ branding. With current-day creative talent now working like this as a standard operating procedure, my agency, Domus’ 20+-year-old model is validated as serving our clients such as Merck, DuPont, AIG and Diageo best by honoring creative ideas over the mandate that they come from inside, which is an outdated, traditionally structured agency model.

Creatively, there are lots of Don Drapers out there, and they are not all saddled to high-overhead conglomerate agencies.

For more information in an agency that is Built for the Client™ (including big-hit creative teams) go to www.domusinc.com or contact me directly at betty.tuppeny@domusinc.com.  The best strategy, creative, ideas and execution are yours for the taking, Marketing Directors, and all at a better value with higher ROI.

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