This is not a reflection about myself. This is about Don Draper’s brilliance as an ad man. I just feel like talking about it. Well, maybe it’s a bit about me after all.
Mad Men is one of the most brilliant TV series in the planet. But is the protagonist, Don Draper, brilliant as well?
I’d like to think that he is. Sure, he’s far from perfect in other areas of his life. He’s a good provider, but not an A+ husband and father. He’s a devilishly handsome trainwreck.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about his brilliance as an ad man. I may have rewatched the entirety of the show a couple of times, but sometimes I forget why he was great at his job.
I’m a member of a fan group of Mad Men on Facebook. I posted the question there, “Why was Don a brilliant ad man?” I posted it on Reddit, too.
I discovered that a lot of people agree with me on why he’s brilliant.
Don has been through so much shit in his life—the Korean war, the Cuban missile crisis, his divorce with Betty, Anna Draper’s death, and many more.
He has lived life. He has lived through deaths.
Having those experiences earlier in his life made him see clearly how the world works. He sees things the way they are and not how he wants it to be.
Too many people are caught up with wanting to be right and making things right. They are fascinated by their own fabricated realities that they forget to rub the gunk off of their eyes and blink twice to see the world for what it is.
Don is more pragmatic. He has the ability to tap into what already exists in products, people, and ideas themselves.
And the tool he uses to expose those dismissed realities we often deny? A talent in storytelling.
Adding those together to his charm explains why he was brilliant in advertising.
As for me, a creative living in a pandemic, where it’s very likely that I will be pressured to join a groupthink culture—it made me appreciate him more.
To be a creative in survival mode—to be a human in survival mode at all times—that’s a tough thing to endure.
But to be a creative who sees the world for what it really is, despite your raging desire and urge to be who you want to be?
I respect that.