I got into the advertising business during the sunset of the Mad Men age. I only heard stories of the good times when the account execs could grope the project managers with impunity and the namesakes could pounce on the secretary. I miss out on everything.
There were holdovers, creative giants who would wow clients in the morning and come back sozzled from lunch, dropping ashes in your Apple 2e and breathing Angostura Bitters on your neck while slurring advice. Those were the days.
What do you say we resurrect that sad and pointless era with its own TV series and call it "Mad Men"? We'll get impossibly beautiful characters and glamorize their infidelity between tender shots of them tucking their kids into bed.
The best of the new recruits still come to the marketing world as creative misfits, folks who just aren't cut out for the straight life. But many are breathlessly seeking the Mad Men world, and will ask you: Don't you just love that show?
Yes! Won't it be exciting to make commercials, wreck multiple marriages, and send Goth, tongue-pierced children out into the malls? Let's get busy and do that.
Incredibly, the one place where decency always reigned supreme was in the commercials themselves. Harried moms making do with what they had. Dads putting their kids first. Soldiers coming home to erupting welcomes.
But that was for suckers and patsies. Today, no self-respecting brand wants to be left behind. At least Clorox doesn't. It dedicated a portion of its $40 million ad budget to a commercial made just for "Mad Men."
Slow revolving pullout from lipstick-stained shirt. Phone ringing in the background. Seductive black and white photography. Somewhere in the room, we assume, a mad man is intertwined with a girl. And the tagline is tapped out by an old-style typewriter:
"Getting ad guys out of hot water for generations."
Hey! I'm an ad guy, and I manage to stay out of hot water perfectly well on my own, thanks.
Now that Clorox has thrown its marketing budget behind infidelity, imagine what other TV-show-inspired causes it'll find.
"Real Housewives of New Jersey": This will get that friggin' dirtbag's shirt clean.
"Jersey Shore": Getting self-tanner and rum and punch out of skuzzy people's shirts.
"The Bachelor": Cleaning hot tubs for two-faced losers.
"Fear Factor": Getting stubborn stains out of terrified wannabes' underwear.
"Kate Plus Eight": Making eight babies look fresh and clean while their parents' marriage self-destructs in front of millions in a desperate ratings grab by failing networks.
In a time when many brands have become active in trying to reverse the decline of our environment, our schools and our way of life, Clorox makes a different choice.
Getting clean is getting dirty.
John Olson is founder of OLSON, a 300-person marketing agency in Minneapolis, and The BrandLab, a program serving youth in a dozen inner city high schools.