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So in the last few years men have found ourselves a new idol. Don Draper, the misogynistic, alcoholic advertising executive from Mad Men. He’s taken over from Gene Hunt, the misogynistic, alcoholic police officer from Life on Mars.

Of course, what both these paragons of masculine virtue have in common is that they live in the past. And are fictional.

So if Mad Men has led you to decide that jobs in advertising are where you want to focus your efforts, maybe we should take a look at exactly how the reality compares to the fiction.


Mad Men by Radio 

Don Draper gets to the office after having breakfast with his family, says hello to his personal assistant and sits behind his desk, pulling a bottle of whiskey out of the drawer to give him his first little pick-me-up of the day.

A real ad executive gets into work exhausted, having had to work late the night before. Breakfast is a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll which he munches down on while going through the stacks and emails from both clients and elsewhere in the company. Then he has to check the newspapers, not for the news, but to check the adverts, both the ones belonging to his clients, and those belonging to his competitors.


Mad Men Beer Packaging Design by Samantha Mancl

Don Draper meets with his boss and an important client. Over a glass of bourbon he dazzles the room with his amazing ideas, although not without subtly swapping barbs, backstabbing and political manoeuvring with his colleagues in the same room. Just as it looks like everything is going to pot, Don comes up with an ingenious, spur of the moment idea that saves the campaign.

A real ad executive goes to meeting having carefully prepared three different proposals according to the client’s brief. The clients like some of the ideas, but aren’t happy with the copywriters work, which was written with very little in the way of guidelines from the client. This is a problem, as for a while now the client hasn’t been happy with what the client’s been producing, but hasn’t been offering a detailed brief to tell the copywriters was it is they do want, so our ad executive suggests another meeting to finally hammer this issue out.

He then heads back to the office for a length meeting about another campaign, which he’ll need to present that afternoon. A host of ideas are presented, honed, improved, then rejected, before finally they agree on which ideas to present to the client.


Mad Men by Fernando Fuentes

Don Draper tells his secretary to hold all his calls, before going and meeting his mysterious for a three hour lunch break, involving tonnes of sex and probably a lot more mid-day drinking.

A real ad executive eats lunch at his desk. If he’s lucky he had time to sneak out to Pret A Manger and grab a sandwich. He desperately tries to take all the various notes, revisions and suggestions from the morning meeting and turn it into a polished presentation. Once the presentation is complete, he needs to get everything saved onto a disk for the client and print out enough paper copies of the presentation for everyone who will be at the afternoon meeting.


TV Quotes by Justin Van Genderen

Don Draper finally swans back into the office with a napkin he’s written an ingenious slogan on for the new client, inspired by some ongoing drama in his personal life. He takes his messages from the secretary who’s been desperately trying to keep his affair a secret from his wife who has been calling all lunch. He goes into his office, has a drink.

A real ad executive after spending the last few hours polishing the client’s presentation, going through the client’s own websites and previous advertising campaigns and forwarding everything relevant to the copywriter, as well as all the information he can gather on the client’s competition, the time is finally here. Our real ad executive goes into the meeting, and gives the presentation. Fortunately, the hard work pays off this time, and the client is really excited about the campaign. They talk about where the campaign should go next.


You’re Good by Luke Beard

Don Draper decides to head home for the day after having a loud argument in the middle of the office with a junior executive. Once he gets home, he kisses his wife, then pours himself another drink.

A real ad executive gets back to his office from the client meeting, where he arranges for clippings from all his client’s advertisements to be sent to them. This is a daily task, as it’s crucial to keep the client informed about what he’s doing for them.

Before he can pack up to go home however, our client gets an email saying an advert that was supposed to appear on a website hasn’t, and they’re wondering why. This could be a major problem, so our ad executive has to stay behind to call the web portal and ask them what’s happened. Meanwhile the client also doesn’t feel happy with how their social media campaign is going, so our ad executive is going to have to arrange a meeting tomorrow to address that.

He’s going to be in the office for another couple of hours. After that he can go home, and maybe, if he’s feeling naughty, he can have a drink.

We hope that you enjoyed this article! Feel free to comment below and share your opinion. If you have never seen Mad Men, you should give it a try on Netflix. Please don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS-feed and follow Inspirationfeed on TwitterFacebook (100% Spam Free!) If you enjoyed the following article, we humbly ask you to comment, and help us spread the word.

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Posted by Chris Farnell

Chris Farnell is a freelance writer based in Norwich, Norfolk. He has written widely on subjects such as jobs in advertising and, unlike Don Draper, works under his own name.


  1. Very good! Thanks.

    Now can you write an article to persuade people that web designers actually work for a living.

  2. I do consider all the ideas you have offered in your post. They are really convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are too short for beginners. Could you please extend them a bit from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

  3. Of course, Don Draper’s life is glamorized, but it was also a different time. Execs didn’t type or even open their own mail, let alone email. Calls went through secretaries and assistants, nobody had a cell or even a direct line.

    I’ve seen deals made on the golf course or in the clubhouse still today, no doubt that some of the schmoozing and recklessness portrayed in Mad Men really occurred in the 50s and 60s.

  4. No thanks. I choose to continue believing I was born in the wrong decade and will lead a revolution to bring back the 3 martini lunch.

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