Admen and Madmen

Posted by on Apr 12, 2008 in Uncategorized | No Comments


Rory has a nice piece in this week’s Spectator: typically and admirably contrarian he argues that it’s a good thing that Admen have got to the heart of government (and not just in the UK). His hook is the drama series Mad Men (currently enhancing our Sunday evenings in the UK – yes, I know US-based readers: you’ve already seen all of Series 1. We’re all done with Torchwood and you’re just discovering the joys of the Doctor).

Much as I love Rory, I have to disagree.

Not as Grant does here in his review of the TV series where he points out that

“ad men pra(e?)yed upon culture and consumers”

…though – were it true – this isn’t a very nice thought.

No, my disagreement is on the basis that (M)Admen from the Saatchi’s onwards have helped reinforce some really silly notions about human beings and human behaviour that politicians and civil servants work from, while maintaining the illusion that we (ministers, management, marketing) and our tools (such as adverts) are a strong force influencing consumer behaviour: that they make much difference.

So whatever your politics, wouldn’t it be better if our chosen leaders had a better map of mass behaviour and a more realistic view of what can be done in order to develop better policies and implement them well.

But before you get the wrong impression, David and Stephen are much more than admen: both have proven themselves as managers and leaders; both are much smarter than anyone in Mad Men. And both will do far more in no.10 than any mere (M)Adman could. I’d want them both on my team.