What does Roger Sterling think of advertising?
‘Mad Men’ star John Slattery talks to Piers Morgan about playing ‘the most sexist character on TV’ and the importance of creative
■ BY ANDREW HAMPP firstname.lastname@example.org
PIERS MORGAN, who takes over the
“Larry King Live” time slot on CNN
next month, was hoping to tackle sexism
in the ad industry during Ad Age’s ME*
Conference: Media Evolved last week.
Happily for him, his interview subject
was John Slattery, aka Roger Sterling on
“Mad Men”—and “arguably the most
sexist character on TV.”
But of course Roger Sterling would-
n’t go over now as well as he does in the
show’s 1960s milieu. And Mr. Slattery
had plenty of distance to put between
himself and his role. “Most of my
friends that were like that when I was
younger are in rehab,” he said. “Now
they’re all sobered up and no fun at all
No fun, maybe, but more tolerable
as people. Mr. Slattery wouldn’t keep a
real-life Roger Sterling very close, he
said, except perhaps for dramatic effect
and a certain insensitive charm. “I think
I’d be like the people in the show,” Mr.
Slattery said. “They sort of keep him at
arm’s length and roll their eyes at him.”
Playing an ad man hasn’t lent Mr.
Slattery much insight into marketing, it
turned out. “You’d think I’d know a hell
of a lot about advertising but I don’t
know shit about advertising. To see
these seminal campaigns in the way
they were created, the research they put
into some of those things is fascinating.
David Ogilvy said you can have great
creative, but if it doesn’t sell product it
doesn’t mean shit.”
After four seasons, for its part, “Mad
Men” is still selling itself to audiences
and awards judges quite nicely. It’s part-
STERLING IN PLATFORMS?
“Mad Men” episodes
could get to 1970,
Mr. Slattery said .
ly nostalgia, Mr. Slattery said, but it’s
also more than that. “In those days you
could drink, smoke and fuck around and
you wouldn’t get caught,” he said. “Or
you could look at it as a brilliantly written show, well cast along the lines of
‘The Sopranos’ or something that isn’t
necessarily a moral example of how to
behave—just good, creative, dramatic
theatrical fare on television.”
As a whole the show has won many
laurels, including two Emmys for
Outstanding Drama Series, but as individuals Mr. Slattery and other cast
members have failed to convert individual Emmy nominations into wins. But
the role is still the best job Mr. Slattery
has ever had, he said. And it’s probably
got a couple more seasons in it, enough
to finish the 1960s.
“We’re in negotiations to do the
next couple years,” Mr. Slattery said.
My bet would be the next two years.
We could get to ‘70 in the last season,
which would be great. I could wear platform shoes. ... Did they have platform
shoes in 1970? That might have been a
DANA ANDERSON’S CELEBRITY
RULES FOR DIGITAL MARKETING
What you can learn from stars such as Lady
Gaga, Robert Downey Jr. and Angelina Jolie
■ BY KUNUR PATEL email@example.com
DANA ANDERSON, senior VP-marketing strategy and communications at
Kraft, brought her lessons in how to
become a bad boy (or girl) of digital to
the conference, often using a gaggle of
pop-culture icons to illustrate her point.
Here are a few of her simple rules.
Ms. Anderson first looked to bad boy
Robert Downey Jr., whom she dubbed
the king of swagger. “If you want to
inspire people to go with you, you need
the charisma and swagger,” she said.
“Pilot is my new favorite word: It
means we are going to learn and going
to have less risk,” she said, adding,
Playing beats math. We’re not going to
worry about that [measurement] right
now, we’re just going to play.”
That experiment mindset could also
lead to an unexpected valuable discov-
ery. “Two things I want you to remem-
ber are penicillin and electricity,” she
said. “’Should we do social media?’ is
kind of like saying ‘Should we get a light
bulb?’ when electricity was invented.”
A next step is bringing people together
in a more meaningful format than a
training session. At Kraft, those events
are called “digital hothouses.” People are
asked to bring their work problems to
the hothouses and can expect to leave
with an outline of a solution.
BE A DIGITAL
you can go to
the next level.
“It’s not that people
don’t like training; they just don’t have
time for it,” she said. “If you make it
valuable ... they’ll show up.”
Ms. Anderson stressed that marketers
should follow the lead of Angelina Jolie,
who never settles. This advice especially
applies to staffing, talent and agency
partnerships. “Not only do I want my
guys to demand the very best, I want
them to be the best, too,” she added.
She outlined the Rule of Two, where
on an attractiveness scale of 1 to 10, a
person can only date someone two
points above or below them.
“Let’s say I am a five, I can date two
up and date two down,” she said. “The
same thing applies to being a great
client. If you’re a 5, you’ll buy a 7 or 3
[campaign], but what are the chances
you’ll inspire a 10?”
KISS AND TELL
Following pop star Katy Perry, Ms.
Anderson says we should remember to
kiss and tell. (Ms. Perry kissed a girl,
and she liked it.) Especially in large
organizations such as Kraft, marketers
have to remember to share successes
and new projects.
10 LESSONS FROM THE ME* CONFERENCE: MEDIA EVOLVED
Ad Age held its first conference devoted to the changing definition of media last week in New York,
followed by a presentation of the first Media Vanguard Awards. Speakers from the media, agency and
marketing worlds talked about how their perspectives and plans were shifting; here are 10 lessons from
our reporters’ notebooks. For full coverage of the event, see AdAge.com.
BE IN THE ‘COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT’ BUSINESS
Brands can’t just spray crowds with messages the
way they used to, said Nick Brien, chairman-CEO of
McCann Worldgroup. “We aren’t just in the
storytelling business, we are in the community-management business,” he said. “If we are not
participating and if the brand is not at the center of
the stage, there is no way it is going to be embraced
or build an organic business relationship.”
KNOW YOUR LIMITS, ESPECIALLY WITH TWITTER
It’s neat when senior execs or celebs “join the
conversation,” but it can be a time suck. Martha
Stewart, who accepted a Media Vanguard Award for
Lifetime Achievement, saidshedoesn’t answer
direct messages on Twitter and “slaps herself” if
she tweets for more than five minutes a day.
ONLINE AUDIENCE MEASUREMENT STILL NEEDS FIXING
Publishers still take issue with established web-metrics providers. Bob Bowman, CEO of Major
League Baseball Advanced Media, spoke of one
service that reported MLB.com had 5 million unique
video users in October, he said, when the real figure
was 70 million. Mr. Bowman also pointed out that
mobilecandrive traffictoacompany’s websites but
not drive comparable revenue. One third of
MLB.com’s visitors came via a mobile device but
those visitors generated only 3% of overall revenue.
MACHINES CAN MAKE YOU MORE INTERESTING
A company called SocialFlow is using math to figure
out when you can get the most traction for your
tweet. For clients like The Economist, an algorithm
looks at potential tweets queued up by a human
and compares them to current conversations on
Twitter. If talk about the Irish bank bailout suddenly
explodes, SocialFlow can pull the trigger on an
Economist tweet linking to an article on the subject.
‘REALITY’ BREEDS A NEED FOR REALITY
Millennials have grown up with reality
programming, but the genre has blurred the lines
between actual reality, hyper-reality and other,
more scripted kinds of content. As a result, there’s
an untapped need for something absolute,
according to MTV research head Nick Shore.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
In an app, “too many buttons adds frustration,
which has a negative cognitive effect,” said Betsy
Frank, chief research and insights officer at Time Inc.
BEING BIG IS NO EXCUSE
“I refuse to allow people to use ‘We’re big’ as an
excuse for anything,” ESPN President George
Bodenheimer said during the conference’s
opening session. The company is a goliath, but that
just means competition is coming from all sides.
MARKETERS CAN MAKE THEIR OWN MEDIA
Digital media and technology is making it easier
for marketers to create their own content instead
of always buying ad space or time from traditional
MOBILE IS ABOUT PROXIMITY, NOT DEVICE
Whether you reach them watching a TV show on a
TV, a computer or a smartphone, people are still
people, marketers and media buyers said during a
midday panel. “But at what point are they a
consumer?” asked Matt Seiler, global CEO at
Universal McCann. “Close to point of purchase.
The moment of interaction is a much more
interesting way of thinking about the cycle of
entertained person to engaged shopper.”
Marketers may hesitate to address serious topics
in a lighthearted manner, but GE found that a
humorous approach to health care was one that
consumers really embraced. Judy Hu, senior
global executive director of advertising and
branding at GE, said the company earned millions
of YouTube views with cheeky videos such as
“How to Party Your Way to Health.”