Last night’s season finale of ‘Mad Men’ was all about the terror of being bought out by mega-agency McCann Erickson. Spoiler alert: things happen, finally. And that might be the best part of this finale. When things happen on this show, people go “oh well that’s interesting.” Apparently though, when Draper changes clothes, ‘dons’ his adman suit (if you will), so does the living-breathing advertising industry you work in.
The Examiner calls it ‘The Sterling Cooper effect’. “Since ‘Mad Men’ came on the air, I have noticed a dramatic change in the perception that clients we engage have of people in the ad business,’ [Three Sixty Communications’ Ben Littlefield] said. ‘People who are hiring an ad agency for the first time are expecting Don Draper to walk in the door. When they see the guy in jeans and a T-shirt come in, they think ‘who the hell are you?’.'”
Could this be the end to sloppy advertising people? If you’re an old, you’re probably jumping for joy. Odds are you don’t own enough t-shirts to put together a sufficiently sloppy work wardrobe and as a result have continued dressing oldly. But now that’s what clients want. And isn’t creativity sexier when not accompanied by a mustard-and-weed-smoke saturated Killers T?
It could be true. After all these are uncertain times and for the wary client, seeing your newly-hired (or maybe-to-be-hired) agency in respectable clothing could be comforting. Like when you go to a bank and everyone there is smartly dressed. They’re handling your money and alleging they can make you more of it, so shouldn’t they at least pretend to dress like they can do that?
That’s a model the new Draper society can adhere to, despite their squalid hotel digs. Apparently in those days it wasn’t cool to find some abandoned loft in DUMBO and squat in it until your agency gets the respect it deserves.
Either way, this “you will get business if you dress nice” idea feels flimsy. Don’t uptight business people want their creatives to look unleashed? Isn’t that why Draper plays up his badassness? Today it’s socially acceptable to be slobbenly in the workplace and that often is confused for rebellion. But have we gotten to the point that this James Dean Effect is moot? The business may have finally come full circle, again.
More: “Draper’s Finale”