5 client lessons from ‘Mad Men’

Though the fictional account executives at Sterling Cooper focus on advertising campaigns, PR pros can glean knowledge from their successes and failures.

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Don Draper and Peggy Olson might work at an advertising firm, but that doesn’t mean PR pros can’t apply the lessons they learn.

By the beginning of the show’s seventh and final season, Sterling Cooper (as it was originally known) had 83 clients in its portfolio, many of which—Cool Whip, Jaguar, Heinz Baked Beans, Clearasil, Kodak, Lucky Strike and Campbell’s Soup—are real brands that exist today.

Between the endless supply of office booze and relationship drama, the staff of Sterling Cooper has had to navigate client relationships, creative disputes and crisis situations.

Here are five client lessons PR and marketing pros can learn from “Mad Men”:

1. Listen to them.

“The day you sign a client is the day you start losing one,” Draper famously says.

Sterling Cooper’s loss of clients might have occurred because many account executives didn’t listen to them. From Menken’s department store to Heinz Baked Beans, Draper and Olson’s work was only as good as the client deemed it to be—and clients didn’t enjoy campaigns that didn’t keep their ideas in mind.

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