The Evolution of the Ad Agency: Mad Men in the Digital Age

mad men season 6At ideas*Collide we may not make our libation choices or take our parenting cues from Mad Men but, when it comes to branding, the show offers a cornucopia of marketing fodder. The start of the 6th season of Mad Men has ICMC’ers abuzz. Although discussing the story lines is always fun, we find greater joy in pondering how our favorite “Ad Men” would function in today’s highly digitalized, symbiotic marketing environment.

Recently, we have been considering how traditional ad agencies have evolved. As you may recall from earlier seasons, it was not until 20 years after TV was established that Sterling Cooper approved a TV department. It took a long time for people in advertising to realize the power in TV ads. As we work with clients to develop social media ad campaigns, it is hard not to draw parallels between TV and new media in this regard.

To some, social media, as well as the Internet as an advertising medium, are still in a gestational period: growing and somewhat undefined. Many traditional agencies have struggled to adapt and embrace new digital channels and, as a result, a new breed of agency has been born.  Digital marketing firms, like ours, have their foundation on traditional advertising and communications agencies but have incorporated new media as a necessary part of their mix.  In fact, if you follow our blog, you have read our take on the negative correlation between ignoring digital when working on a print campaign.

Ask ideas*Collide’s founder and he will tell you that he founded the agency out of frustration with the disjointed service offering available to him as a Marketing Director of an international company. A visionary, he was in tune with social media at its inception point and eager to jump at the opportunity to leverage the channel as part of his marketing mix.  What he saw was not only ignorance, but disregard.

Last year, as the 5th season was kicking off, we had great fun thinking about how Don would tackle social media.  You can read more on that here and follow our reasoning for why Don would be that agency leader pushing us to think beyond the “Likes”.

As we pointed out back then, we may have swapped scotch and whiskey for Diet Coke and Starbucks, rib eye steak for salads and cigarettes for gum but the basics of successful marketing continue to be the same…
“achieving a sustainable balance in what should be a mutually beneficial relationship between a brand and its consumers”. New media, like TV back then, should inevitably play a part in this balance.


Posted on April 6, 2013 in Ideas

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