The latest TV drama my wife and I are engrossed in? “Mad Men.” I know, I know, where have you been, Arik? We’re a little slow to the pop culture scene, at times.
We’re hooked now, and just starting season 5.
"Mad Men" is a great show. I love the period references, clothing, and language. I especially enjoy the insider-baseball advertising/agency innuendo: The new business conundrums. The inner-office politics. The ineptitude of the partners at times. The dynamics of an agency meeting. I love it all.
Most of all: Don Draper, one of the most iconic TV characters of the last decade or more. Much has been written about the character (heck, “Dear Abby”-like Tumblr blogs
are devoted to him), but one thing lingers in my mind as I watch the show: What if Don Draper were transported 50-some years into the future and worked in the PR industry instead?
Well, I gave that some thought. (Yes, I do think about such things.) Here’s a list of 15 ways Don Draper might be different if he were working in public relations in 2013:
Ad man Don Draper’s drink of choice: Canadian Club, straight up.
PR man Don Draper’s drink of choice: Coffee. That’s an easy one.
Ad man Don Draper’s communication technology: A black, rotary desk phone
PR man Don Draper’s communication technology: An Apple iPhone 5. With Don’s sense of style, there’s no doubt he’d be an Apple guy–question is, would he use this case
Ad man Don Draper’s command to subordinates: “I want 10 taglines for that ad by 5 p.m.”
PR man Don Draper’s command to subordinates: “I want 10 ideas for that status update on the client’s Facebook page by 5 p.m.”
Ad man Don Draper’s afternoon pick-me-up: Siestas in his office on what appears to be the most uncomfortable couch ever.
PR man Don Draper’s afternoon pick-me-up: Starbucks iced coffee.
Ad man Don Draper’s exercise of choice: Swimming in the New York Athletic Club pool.
PR man Don Draper’s exercise of choice: Yoga.
Ad man Don Draper’s vehicle of choice: A Ford Thunderbird.
PR man Don Draper’s vehicle of choice: A BMW 5 series.
Ad man Don Draper’s agency location: New York City, the epicenter of the ad world.
PR man Don Draper’s agency location: San Francisco. It’s close to Silicon Valley, many tech, and Fortune 500 companies, as well as a wealth of creative talent.
Ad man Don Draper’s agency partners: An over-the-hill veteran, a raging alcoholic, and an overly organized Brit.
PR man Don Draper’s agency partners: Nobody. Don is definitely the kind of guy who runs his own firm, his way, and, to be honest, I find it hard to believe he would put up with the partners he has for more than 10 minutes.
Ad man Don Draper’s holiday party: Held in the office with oodles of alcohol and key clients invited. The party goes late into the night.
PR man Don Draper’s holiday party: What holiday party?
Ad man Don Draper’s management style: Strict, top-down, and domineering.
PR man Don Draper’s management style: Open, empowering, and collaborative. OK, this might be a little wishful, but still.
Ad man Don Draper’s agency marketing tactic: Writing an op-ed letter to The New York Times
declaring his agency is forever done with tobacco companies as clients.
PR man Don Draper’s agency marketing tactic: Creating a “viral video.” Don’s fatal flaw is thinking he knows it all. It shows up big time here.
Ad man Don Draper’s office crisis: One of Don’s many girlfriends showing up in the office at the same time as his wife.
PR man Don Draper’s office crisis: Photos of Don’s “escapades” with one of his many girlfriends surfacing on Facebook.
Ad man Don Draper’s book to read: "Ogilvy on Advertising," by David Ogilvy.
PR man Don Draper’s book to read: "Lean In," by Sheryl Sandberg (Just kidding.)
Ad man Don Draper’s client approach: Sell, sell, sell.
PR man Don Draper’s client approach. Listen, listen, listen.
Ad man Don Draper’s fashion statement: A skinny tie and a fedora.
PR man Don Draper’s fashion statement: Allen Edmunds shoes and a Brooks Brothers suit. As much as I want Don to be a jeans-and-jacket guy, he’s just not.
Arik Hanson is principal of ACH Communications in Minneapolis. He blogs at Communications Conversations, where a version of this article originally appeared.