Recently, season four of the acclaimed AMC television series Mad Men kicked off. In case you have been orbiting space since the show premiered in 2007, Mad Men is set in the 1960s and exposes the professional and personal lives of advertising executives based in New York City.
What was particularly striking about the premier episode was its uncharacteristic focus on public relations (PR) and its connection to the world of advertising. At the start of the episode, advertising executive and character Pete Campbell claimed that he does not deal with PR. It reminded me how much has changed since that era, and that today, while marketers may have a particular focus within the medium, we are more and more often required to understand all facets of marketing and integrate efforts across all channels. Today’s marketing professionals need to have an understanding of key business goals, how to align messages, all marketing channels (from print to social media) and how to drive the bottom line.
The episode also got me thinking about how even decades ago there was a need to clearly convey marketing goals. The show’s marquee “creative” character Don Draper, fumbled a media interview by failing to properly position himself and his newly launched company resulting in a less than desirable article. It’s clear that Don lacked an understating of how PR (specifically a media placement), could accelerate the company’s business goals. Often, companies spend dollars with PR firms to secure media opportunities, send product managers to tradeshows and leverage social media like Twitter and Facebook. However, all of these efforts are done in vain if the participants fail to understand the value of marketing to the company, and are responsible for delivering the key messages the company needs to convey and achieving program goals.
Today, 50 years after the Mad Men era, some companies are still struggling to integrate their marketing organization and create cross-marketing opportunities that can advance their brands. Further, their key players still don’t understand the value of marketing. From this episode we’re reminded of how far we have come, as well as how far marketing, its people, strategies and tactics can continue to evolve.