Archive for July, 2008

On “Mad Men” and Agency Change

July 29, 2008 Leave a comment

The first episode of Mad Men‘s season two aired last night on AMC.  I love this show.  It’s witty, smart, clever and has the right balance of drama and style that really can suck a person in to the point where they truly care about the characters involved. Everything about the show is superbly handled…particularly when it comes to characters grappling with the changes taking place across their lives and their professions.

The main character, Don Draper, is feeling these changes rather intensely.  He is told to find new talent, and to embrace the emerging youth culture, because the world around him is doing the same.  The culture moved from President Eisenhower to President Kennedy during the gap between seasons.  This created a brand-new youth-oriented cultural movement that Draper can either embrace, or dismiss.  He seems to be choosing a spot somewhere in the middle, by reading new books by poets of the time or bringing 23-year-old self-proclaimed “whiz kids” because “clients are demanding youth”…but he’s not buying into this movement just yet.

I personally experienced a situation like this years ago. I worked in a PR agency in Washington, DC in 1994, well into the age of the personal computer but before the age of the Internet.  My manager, a real hardass with no sense of humor (had to smile when Draper told a colleague that there needed to be “advertising for people with no sense of humor”), told me to write up a proposal for a client who needed some professional services help.  One of the line items that we were going to charge the customer for was typesetting press release copy. Even in 1994 everything was printed on laser printers, so I had to ask, “Alan, are you kidding me?  Typesetting?  Nobody typesets any more.”  Which brought a blank stare, like I was the biggest idiot on the planet, and he dismissed me with a “fine, take it off.”

Alan didn’t last at that agency much longer.

There’s no way that Alan, living with the way he had done PR for so long, would have adapted to the Internet age with that old-school way of thinking.  Don Draper is in for the same ride.  And so are all the marketers and “PR experts” who are not embracing Web 2.0 technologies, but instead are relying on the same old tricks to get their messages out.  They are going to be left behind, stuck in the glory of yesterday.

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Off Topic: Batman The Dark Knight

July 24, 2008 1 comment

I saw the new Batman film last night and frankly am still recovering from it.  This is an incredibly powerful and intense film – it grabs you in the first 10 minutes and will not let you catch your breath for two hours, and there’s still 30 minutes more to go.  It starts out meeting expectations – Batman stopping Gotham criminals, same as always – but when the Joker appears, everything is thrown askew.  Unlike the other summer hit Iron Man, which was a lot of fun, there’s no predictability in this movie.  And this makes it mesmerizing.  It would be like a Mission:Impossible film where the Tom Cruise character dies, and stays dead…and although you expect the evil scientist’s assistant to tear off his plastic face to reveal Cruise behind it at the end, it doesn’t happen.

And the acting: I’m not sure I could say anything more about Heath Ledger than hasn’t already been written about everywhere.  His Joker steals the show.  It’s more of a Joker movie with Batman as the foil rather than the other way around.  Christian Bale was fine if a little dispassionate, Maggie Gyllenhaal was fine and played the part much better than Katie Holmes, and Gary Oldman and Aaron Eckhart were outstanding.

This is a wild ride, one that I recommend seeing.  Just be sure you know what it is that you’re going to see: this is ain’t Christopher Reeve sparring with Gene Hackman.  It’s part action/adventure, part horror, part Kubrick, part Hill Street Blues, part classic Pacino.  Whew!

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A Laptop Look Back

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/* Style Definitions */
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Here’s a fun look back at a laptop of yesteryear… long before we worried about Green IT or Sustainability!

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