Blogging Out Loud

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5 Genius Marketing Moments Inspired by Don Draper

Don Draper’s handsome, watchful face has become a symbol of the heady days of the 1960s, when advertising as an industry was truly “coming of age”

Don Draper’s handsome, watchful face has become a symbol of the heady days of the 1960s, when advertising as an industry was truly “coming of age”


The creative process Don Draper and the advertising team of Sterling Cooper go through on “Mad Men” for their clients is a large part of what makes the seminal show so intriguing. The show is now entrenched in 1970 and is entering its last few creative reviews. Do you ever wonder how Draper’s top inspirational moments would play in today’s world of technology and data driven marketing? We did and we believe his big personality and ideas would both play quite well. Judge for yourself as Blogging Out Loud shares five of his best marketing quotes, along with modern day companies that have made them their own.

“If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” -Don Draper

Real world application: Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign

The beautiful and REAL ladies of Dove

The beautiful and REAL ladies of Dove

Based on the findings of a major global study, The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report, that said that just 11% of women worldwide consider themselves “beautiful,” Dove® launched the Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004. The idea behind the campaign is to counter the “conversation” that there is one type of beauty. The campaign uses real women of all shapes, sizes, and ages to underscore and promote the idea that every woman is beautiful.

“Nothing is more dangerous than being satisfied with being big enough.” -Don Draper

Real world application: Beats Electronics (Beats)

Beats certainly takes this sentiment to heart—or, perhaps better put, to social media. Beats wanted the 2012 launch of their new Beats by Dre® colored headphones to make a big impact and bring people together. Beats’ #showyourcolor campaign encouraged fans to participate on social media for a chance to be in the next Beats by Dre TV spot.

Fans could go to the Beats site or attend live events held in various locations around the world to enter the #showyourcolor contest. The campaign was promoted to fans and influencers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Videos promoting these events and recapping them for the audience were posted online. The result was an additional 1.7 million fans joining the Beats Army, including a 76% growth in Instagram followers and a 57% increase in YouTube subscribers.

“Make it simple, but significant” -Don Draper

Real world application: Apple, Inc.

Don Draper has countless memorable quotes. Apple founder Steve Jobs was known for his, as well. One of his most famous quotes was: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Under Jobs, Apple’s guiding tenant was to keep designs clean and intuitively easy to use. It remains so to this day: Apple’s products, from their tablets to the newly launched Apple watch, are distilled to their core essence. And its not just the products: their website, billboards, television commercials, and print ads have no extraneous wording, no distracting colors or designs, and, in simple terms, state what the product will do for the consumer—the essence of “simple.”

“Success comes from standing out, not fitting in.” -Don Draper

Real world application: Always

Let’s face it: there doesn’t appear—at first blush anyway—to be many creative ways to sell feminine products. They have an acknowledged purpose and, traditionally, every company’s advertising promises the same general thing: convenience, protection and the confidence to live your life without worry. Well, Always completely eschewed that approach in their #LikeAGirl campaign, ranked one of the top ten ads of 2014. In a YouTube video, Always asked regular people what it means to do something “like a girl.” The video racked up 53 million views and delivered the message that doing something “like a girl” is something to be proud of, not embarrassed by.

“Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.” -Don Draper

Real world application: Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola hit marketing pay dirt with their “Have a coke and a smile” campaign in the 1970s. Ever since, their marketing has stressed the implicate joy you get when you drink a Coke. In 2011, the company launched its “Where Will Happiness Strike Next?” campaign with the intent of delivering moments of happiness to people around the world. In the first spot, the Coca-Cola Happiness Machine, a specially rigged vending machine dispenses pizza, flowers and other fun surprises on a college campus in New York. The video of people’s reaction was posted to YouTube, garnering nearly 7 million views.

The Happiness Machine inspired the Coca-Cola Happiness Truck, the Coca-Cola Happiness Store and more than 100 other videos from around the world. “Where Will Happiness Strike Next?” films have clocked more than 60 million views.

What’s Your Favorite Don Draper Inspirational Quote?

Do you have a favorite Don Draper quote that you’ve seen come to life in a brilliant marketing campaign? Or do you have an “inner Don Draper” that you would like to apply to a brand or service. Please share your story in the comments section below.

Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency. Screen captures intended as illustrative examples only. Registered trademarks and logos are the property of their respective owners.

10 comments on “5 Genius Marketing Moments Inspired by Don Draper

  1. joannemhilton
    April 17, 2015

    Like a Girl strikes home. As a former dirt track car racer and the only woman in that particular men’s circuit at the time … I showed them what it was like to “race like a girl” and earned their respect! All the 5 marketing quotes are really great and attributed to the success in many a great marketing campaign.


  2. Phil Saifer
    April 9, 2015

    Terrific post covering memorable Don “Draperisms” and how they are indeed applicable to 2015 brand communications. As a fan of the show, I believe the unsung hero is Peggy Olson, the woman we watched break out from a secretary to a true leader at the agency. My favorite quote from her comes from season one: “I don’t think anyone wants to be one of a hundred colors in a box.” In today’s world where people strive to be individualists and marketers are trying to keep up, isn’t Peggy a wise and inspirational character?


    • Kim Haman
      April 10, 2015

      Peggy is a counterpoint to Don…I think she is one of the only people he truly respects. Her opinion matters to him. She is flawed as well, but in a “kinder” way if that makes sense. Perhaps another blog should be “Peggyisms.” 🙂


  3. Shannon Murphy
    April 8, 2015

    Great Blog! All of them inspiring and playing to fundamental human values and aspirations. I’d forgotten about the “Always” campaign, but got teary-eyed too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kim Haman
      April 8, 2015

      HI Shannon! I give the Dove Real Beauty campaign a ton of credit for getting the conversation started about beauty “standards” around the world. That was a decade ago–and now, women, I feel, are embracing their true bodies in a way that they never have before. Advertisers are at last catching on–have you noticed more and more ads, especially on TV, feature women with “average” bodies? We, as women, are so much more than our bodies. Our beauty is defined by who we are, not what we look like 🙂


  4. The Apple analogy is genius! I love it!!


    • Kim Haman
      April 8, 2015

      Steve Jobs was a brilliant guy. I read his biography a few months ago and was astonished by his genus and his audacity. I learned so much.

      Companies, I believe, are starting to embrace the concept of simplicity in their products and their advertising–and it’s about time. Consumers are overwhelmed. We’re looking for solutions to our most pressing problems, and we don’t want to have to wade through reams of information to figure it out. We want–and need–workable solutions that are headache free (or relatively so). Jobs understood that instinctively.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!


  5. Lois Mosgrove
    April 8, 2015

    These are great! Agree that the Dove and Always campaigns changed the conversation and the lens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kim Haman
      April 8, 2015

      Hi Lois! The Always video actually made me a little teary-eyed! As the mom of two daughters, 15 and 13, I want them to be proud and fierce and know they can do anything that they set their mind to! And that doing something “like a girl” is actually a COMPLIMENT! 🙂


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