‘Mad Men’ Creator Matthew Weiner on Today’s Advertising
Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner will always have a place in television history. His show regularly dukes it out with The Sopranos (for which he was a writer), The Wire, and Breaking Bad for the title of greatest American TV drama ever. (He also made a less successful move to the silver screen as the writer/director of 2013’s Are You Here with a cast including Amy Poehler, Owen Wilson, and Zach Galifianakis.) Now as he’s preparing to return to TV with a new project for Amazon, Adweek‘s Jason Lynch caught up with him to talk advertising.
Much like Don Draper and company, Weiner and the show’s writers needed to come up with ad campaigns for the featured products. It seems that these could be often humbling. Weiner notes that when the show featured Jaguar, he suggested this campaign tagline: “Something beautiful you can own.” The show’s staff included Vic Levin, who boasted a background in advertising. Weiner recalls him declaring, “This is a terrible tagline. It’s terrible. It’s beneath Don. It’s beneath the agency.” Levin particularly hated how the ad wasn’t “specific”: “Anybody who can buy a Jaguar can buy anything.”
(Weiner, arguing it fit the needs of the program, ultimately modified it to “Something beautiful you can truly own.”)
Weiner reports he has received a great deal of feedback from ad execs on the series. He says:
“I would hear two things. Number one: ‘You’re making our job very hard, because every client is coming in and is expecting an emotional sales pitch, which is not what we do anymore.’ And then I was hearing, ‘[Draper]’s so good and [the sales pitch]’s so short!’ And I would say, ‘It’s rigged! I’m writing the clients as well.'”
To read more about Weiner revisiting his celebrated series about Madison Avenue ahead of his TV return, click here. Still can’t get enough of Draper? For $200, you can get Taschen’s massive new two-volume set, aptly entitled Mad Men, for all the photos and stories you could possibly desire from the beloved show here. See more of the book below. At bottom, get your fix of those hypnotic opening credits.