If I was Don Draper

Madmen – Episode 1 – Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Author’s  Note – This is my first crack at this.  As this part of the #ncadman blog evolves, so will this section.  Your comments and constructive criticism are welcome.  Thanks for reading.

I really relate with Don Draper since I am more creative than analytical. I love coming up with fresh, innovative and creative ideas for my clients. And like him, I get frustrated when I know something will work, but my client doesn’t buy into it for one reason or another. I have always thought that if you trust an agency enough to hire them, you should trust their ideas even if they seem a little unorthodox. Afterall, it is in the agency’s better interest to come up with an idea that is going to work in a big way.
In the first episode of Madmen, the viewer meets the characters and gets a little bit of their back story. One also gets an idea of the radical difference in corporate culture from the 60s and now – women were not very well respected and would never have been considered as a decision maker.
This becomes evident when Don Draper and Roger Sterling meet with a potential client from a high-end department store called Menken’s. Don suggests a strategy that includes coupons for “frugal” housewives and becomes incensed when the female owner, Rachel Menken, rejects the idea. The conversation becomes heated because Don was unaware the client was female. Rachel leaves the dinner angry and Don chases her down to try and salvage the account, which eventually he does.
Understanding that the show was set in the 60s, reality doesn’t make for good TV, and hind sight is usually 20/20 there are many things I would have done differently. Admittedly, my solutions would not have held up under television viewer scrutiny.
First and foremost, I would have done my research and known exactly who I was meeting with and I would have been prepared. The big difference between Don and myself is the level of his ego – he assumes that his charm and personality along with his reputation are going to win accounts for him. While these things are certainly important, in the real world they are only going to take you so far.

Secondly, no one in their right mind would suggest couponing for a high-end retail store. I am not a fan of coupons for any business. It tells people that your original price is too high and therefore it must be discounted to be sellable. Additionally, if used excessively, which most business do, shoppers will wait for the coupons and getting paid full retail for your products will become an exception rather than a rule. Today, many high-end retailers would say they use couponing successfully, but I think it cheapens their brand.
Shopping is about the experience, especially when it comes to high-end retail. People that could afford to shop at Menken’s wouldn’t use a coupon because they don’t need to – for the most part, price isn’t a factor in when you sell luxury goods. In fact, a coupon would cheapen the experience and Menken’s wouldn’t be exclusive. With coupons, ordinary people could shop there and that is not the image Rachel Menken wanted to portray.
In this instance, I would create a service called Menken’s Concierge Club and make the store even more exclusive. I would charge a membership fee for the Concierge Club which would include services that weren’t available to non-members like private shopping, after-hours shopping, personal shoppers, fashion shows, new product/season release events like monthly martini parties. I would make part of the store exclusive for Concierge Club members where exclusive products that weren’t available anywhere else were sold. This department would have a red carpet and a doorman creating a mystique to further entice non-members. I would have a limousine pick up Concierge Club members at their homes and deliver them to the store. People would want to be seen at Menken’s because of the prestige.
If Menken’s existed today, you would want to add digital marketing to the mix. Marketing to the wealthy online is challenging but not altogether different than marketing to any other demographic. I would start by having a cutting-edge ecommerce website with plenty of video and photo galleries. I would have interviews with the designers and Facebook Live events from the Concierge Club, so non-members could see what they are missing.
In this digital world, many people forget that traditional marketing venues still have their place in the media mix and are still very effective especially when combined with digital in the right way. Understanding your customer is paramount. Who is she? Where does she live? Does she work or stay at home with the kids? Once you have a complete picture of who your customer is, you can be where she is and host events at places she already frequents.
In this episode of Madmen, coupons were the opposite of what Don should have suggested. Perhaps the only thing that would have been worse would have been suggesting changing Menken’s from a luxury boutique to discount shop. In the end, Don gets Menken’s business, but not because he offered up the right strategy.

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