Caution: ‘Mad Men’ can lead to mad agency

I’m a big fan of “Mad Men.” The story line, the writing, the work, the costumes; I like it all. There is one thing, however, that I don’t like: the agency.

Every time I watch the show, or even last season’s tagalong “The Pitch,” I say a prayer of gratitude that I work at Imagine Communications and not an agency like SDCPCGC (real or fictional). Many of the agency situations they get into are real life, whether you’re working with a multi-million dollar account or a mom and pop business. The realness is part of the appeal. But that extends past the client-agency relationship and into the agency workings and culture.

If you’ve worked with Imagine, you already know that everyone matters and everyone helps. Clients are partners and employees are valued. Kind of the anti-“Mad Men” culture.

In a blog published on Crain’s Detroit Business website, “Don’t be like the ‘Mad Men,’” author Amy Haimerl discusses the downfalls of running an agency like SDCPCGC, especially one that has jumped from the small time to the big time. She offers these tips:

Have a vision: Know where you want to be in three to five years. The “Mad Men” “strategy” of chasing the next big thing is fading to black.

Establish a culture: “In stage one, the culture is ‘We have to make whatever work work.’ If you’re on a team of eight or 12, everyone is kind of on the same page naturally.

Manage talent: Finding and retaining talent is a significant challenge; be creative about it.

Marketing is critical: “They are more opportunist and waiting for the phone to ring. … Now, because of the complexity of the buyers and them having more options, the phones just aren’t ringing the way they used to.”

Practical advice, don’t you think? It goes beyond the advertising industry and can be applied to any company. You can read the full article (with more details) here:

How do (or did) you avoid growing pains in your company?

Nadia Zerka is a client relations manager at Imagine Communications.

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