Monday, September 10, 2007

Don Draper’s Rant

My friend, let's call him Jim, has a law. We'll call it Jim's Law. It goes like this: You can lead a client to water, but you can't stop 'em from pissing in it.

So true.

I've already written about my love of AMC's new series, Mad Men, on my other blog. During last week's episode, Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) showed why this show is awesome. He lived the dream every consultant has ever had -- telling a client that they don't have a fucking clue.

So often, people will hire you to give them something different, then work very hard to make sure they get the same thing they had already. Sometimes you can give them a gentle nudge toward the right thing. Sometimes they need something a little more, shall we say, emphatic.

Here I've recounted Don's more emphatic approach. Don and his colleague, Ken, are pitching a new add campaign for lipstick to a client. The client isn't buying it. See how he handles it:

Ken Cosgrove: (To client) I’m not telling you to listen to anyone, but this is a very fresh approach.

Don Draper: “It’s okay, Ken. I don’t think there’s much else to do here than to call it a day. Gentlemen, thank you for your time.

Client: (shrugs) Is that all?

Don Draper: You’re a non-believer. Why should we waste time on kabuki?

Client: I don’t know what that means.

Don Draper: It means that you’ve already tried your plan and you’re number four. You’ve enlisted my expertise and you’ve rejected it to go along the way you’ve been going. I’m not interested in that. You can understand.

Client: I don’t think your three months and however many thousands of dollars allows you to refocus the core of our business.

Don Draper: Listen, I’m not here to tell you about Jesus. You already know about Jesus. Either he lives in your heart or he doesn’t. Every woman wants choices. But in the end, none wants to be one of 100 in a box. She’s unique. She makes the choices and she’s chosen him. She wants to tell the world he’s mine. He belongs to me, not you. She marks her man with her lips. He is her possession. You’ve given every woman who wears your lipstick the gift of total ownership.

Client: (pause) Sit down.

Don Draper: No. Not till I know I’m not wasting my time.

Client: Sit down.

Brilliant. I think anyone who has ever consulted anyone on anything has wanted to say something along these lines at some point. Maybe few have actually said it. But has anyone ever said it and not gotten fired?

UPDATE: For a fantastic breakdown of this episode, visit Matt Zoller Seitz's blog.

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