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Don Draper Does Twitter: How Might the Mad Men Tackle Social Media?

Don Draper Does Twitter: How Might the Mad Men Tackle Social Media?


“Be right back,” I said, hitting the pause button and jumping from the couch. If I were the type to Tweet during TV shows, I’d have had quite a boast. The screen was frozen on the Mad Men scene where Paul Newman delivered the opening remarks at the Andy Awards.

I returned to the couch with 3 Andy Award programs from the era, including the one that was handed out that night. You can see Paul Newman in the lower left. Right below Ed McCabe.


How I got these little volumes isn’t nearly as interesting as why I kept them. The programs have B&W thumbnail images of the years’ finalists.

Flipping through the volume that could have been on Don Draper’s table, this ad caught my eye:


Any kid with $1.25 can send for the formula. Scary thought in 1967The advertiser was WINS News Radio. Talk about promoting content!

The ad took advantage of a formula I first heard from someone who could have been a character on Mad Men.

Headline + Visual = Benefit

You can have a great headline. You can have a great image. But in the best of the best, one can’t live without the other:


You’re reading this through 237 layers of HAR Tape. This must have been cool technology back in the day.

There are a lot of great ads in these programs. This was the heyday of the Volkswagen campaign. I could just imagine these ads turning up as Twitter Cards or in my LinkedIn feed. 

I wanted to create them for real. But the images in these programs are too grainy, the subjects too dated. So, I went to some full-color award books from the 1980s. By then, younger Mad Men era creatives were leading agencies. I pulled these images.


I picked these pictures for their stopping power. They must have cost a small fortune to set up and shoot at the time. Today, I believe a skilled designer can retouch the concepts into existence for a 72 DPI Social Media feed, though probably not as artfully as these photos. 

Now here’s how they would look in a LinkedIn feed. The bold type features the ads’ original headlines.


In short, I'm proposing to update the Mad Men era formula with on that works in today's social media feeds:

Visual + Tweet-length-text = benefit

Maybe the idea is old school, but it’s not nearly as old school as other social media advice I’ve seen.

Google, "How to Write a Blog Headline." Look at all the “10 ways to write one” posts that out there. I’ve yet to see one collection of formulas that wasn’t lifted from John Caples’ Tested Advertising Methods, first published in 1932. 

Times change. Styles change. Societies change.

Human nature does not.

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