Critic Wishes 'Mad Men' Were Thunderdome of Advertising's Heroes
We think it's perfectly fine for someone working in the advertising industry to dislike the AMC series Mad Men and to share that opinion with the industry at large. But, when the second sentence of that opinion reads, "I got through about 10 minutes of it before I changed the channel, trying not to squint as I yawned so I could see what was on the latest episode of Dirty Jobs," the next five paragraphs, which contain blatherings about how the show should be more realistic to industry's "magical" era, become baseless.
For someone to write a review of a television show, which has been on the air for at least 12 weeks, after only having watched the first ten minutes of the premiere episode is half-witted at best and most assuredly irresponsible journalism. McKee Wallwork Cleveland Partner and Creative Director Bart Cleveland is the half-wit who brings us wacky commentary such as, "what I really wanted it to be more like was Mad Max. I wanted the hero to be a little off his rocker about doing great work. I wanted to see him threaten to jump out a window to sell a bagel ad." Mad Max? Oh yea. That'd be an accurate portrayal of what we do.
Cleveland wishes the show (or the ten minutes of it he watched) did a better job explaining to the general public what advertisers do every day. He writes, "I wanted everyone watching to see why we do what we do, why we endure pain and suffering for the sake of doing an ad that gets remembered. Why did I want the show to be about advertising? Because advertising is something that deserves to be shown for what it is -- an art form." An art form? Come on! Sure, advertising is creative but it's sole purpose is to sell shit, not get hung in an art museum. We can't even get the public to think of us an anything more than car salesmen and Cleveland thinks we can even remotely get the public to consider what we do art? Go punch your traffic manger, Bart. You've got some issues to work out.
George Parker didn't like Mad Men either but at least he's watching the show and has earned the right to dislike it. For Cleveland to use ten minutes viewing time to launch into a misty-eyed piece on how the "heroes in our industry...didn't just sell toilet paper and cake mix, but changed culture," is laughable. No one in advertising, no matter who they are or were, has been or will ever be seen by the public as a hero or cultural mover. As much as we and Advertising Week may hope for, we simply aren't heroic in the eyes of the average person.
Advertisers sell shit. Doctors who invent penicillin are heroes. Kids who survive cancer are heroes. Soldiers who defend out freedom are heroes. Firefighters who run into burning buildings to save people are heroes. Those who create advertising are not heroes. Icons? Yes. There are many icons in the advertising business and they certainly deserve their rightful place in our industry's history books. But they aren't heroes to Joe Sixpack.
The purpose of any successful television show is to create entertainment that the vast majority of the public will enjoy watching. Shows that focus on a particular practice can never properly represent the industry upon which they center themselves. Doctors chuckle at ER. Lawyers laugh at Boston Legal. Police officers wish their offices were as cool as those on CSI:Miami. We laugh at Mad Men because it's not a razor sharp portrayal of what we do. But, we also sit transfixed each week watching for one simple reason: it's good TV and we want to know what the hell happened to Don Draper that made him leave his family. If you watched it for more than ten minutes, Bart, you might actually like it.