Who Knows What Emotions Lurk in the Hearts of Consumers? Don Draper Knows!

A brand communicates value to the consumer through advertisements designed to strike emotional chords. More than a television program about a fictional advertising agency in the 1960s, Mad Men is a revealing look at the creative process in advertising.

When Don Draper, Creative Director at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, analyzes a client’s product, he looks at the consumer’s reason for making a purchase. That’s the cornerstone of the creative process. What does the consumer want or need?  Keeping up with the Joneses? Safety? Adventure? The answer to the question will dictate the creative team’s approach. Three examples from Mad Men feature the emotional analysis in the copywriting process resulting in the ad’s tag line, the part of the ad that communicates value.

Nostalgia: Don Draper uses nostalgia when he pitches Kodak regarding its wheel-shaped slide projector. In a meeting with two Kodak executives, Don makes his pitch after the executives admit that wheels are not “exciting technology even though they are the original.”

Don responds by praising the word “new” as a frequent advertising method, but suggests a different approach as he shows slides of his family.

“Nostalgia.  It’s delicate, but potent. Teddy [a copywriter at Don’s previous employer, Heller Furs] told me that in Greek, ‘nostalgia’ literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards.  It takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the Carousel. It let’s us travel the way a child travels, around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we are loved.”

Ownership:  Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce competes with two agencies for the Jaguar account. After seeing Don’s trophy wife, Megan, coming and going as she pleases, copywriter Michael Ginsberg unlocks the true value of Jaguar. The car is like a beautiful woman.  It allures. It attracts. It makes the heart race.

But a woman can never be truly owned, no matter how wealthy, powerful, or creative the man may be. She will always, Ginsberg surmises, have some level of independence. Or crave it until she gets it.

A Jaguar, on the other hand, can be owned. Power. Status.  Sleekness. They will be under the domain of the owner, responding to his every command in a car signaling the owner’s success. Ginsburg creates a tag line reflecting the male consumer’s deeply held, almost primal, emotional quest.  “At last.  Something beautiful you can truly own.”

Ritual:  Peggy Olson creates an ad for Popsicle based on her experience – Eating a twin Popsicle represents a ritual of sharing, not merely sating a sweet tooth. Peggy compares it to the Catholic Church’s ritual of sharing the Sacrament of Communion. “Take it. Break it. Share it. Love it.”

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