Marketing Career Lessons from Mad Men

Whether you’re a first year marketing student or you’re preparing for graduation, odds are you’re familiar with the wildly successful TV show “Mad Men.” Not only does this show make working for ad agencies look appealing, it’s a great source for career lessons. Following are the top five career tips we’ve picked up by watching the show:

1. Dress for Success

The clothes on “Mad Men” are, in essence, another character, and just like the show, how you dress has a direct impact on how others see you. To make the best impression, show up for work in clean and pressed clothes that are appropriate for the office environment. If everyone is wearing collared shirts and ties, be sure to follow suit (yeah, that’s a pun). If the dress code is a little more relaxed, dress it down a notch, but don’t misinterpret business casual for ratty jean day. Strive for a timeless fashion, not this season’s hottest trends.

2. Wield the Power of Silence

One of the most powerful communication tools you have is silence. Just like Don Draper, don’t share more than you need. Keep your personal life and juicy office gossip tidbits out of your repertoire. Stick to the work facts and you can’t go wrong. Think about it this way – who would you rather spend your lunch hour with: the copywriter who is talking about his advertising strategy for the company’s newest multi-billion dollar account or the account executive who is lamenting about his divorce? Don’t be the lonely hearts divorce dude and keep your mouth shut when it comes to your private life.

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3. Don’t Canoodle the Boss

While it may have worked for Jane, sleeping with the boss rarely – if ever – results in a marriage proposal. Sleeping with the boss has several serious implications including perceived favoritism and sexual harassment. And no matter how nice your coworkers may be to your face, it will always be in the back of their minds that you’re sleeping with the boss. As the old adage says, “Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.”

4. Don’t Mix Business with Pleasure

While the idea of getting past the 2:00 productivity slump with a dirty martini sounds like a great idea, don’t do it. Most organizations today have strict rules about drinking during the day. Mix a cocktail and you may find yourself in the unemployment line.

In a similar vein, we understand that having a few drinks with coworkers after a long day seems like a harmless idea, but it’s not. Be careful about how cozy you get with your coworkers. Pulling from Don’s playbook, don’t lose your position of power by giving away much about yourself. Be diligent about how you present yourself to others in your company.

5. Make Work about Work

This can be a hard one to master. No matter how nice they are to you, your coworkers are not your friends. Don’t look at augmenting your social life by making friends at work. Take notes from Don, who clearly cares more about his position than the people on his team. You don’t have to be a callus ass about it, just keep your primary task in mind – to produce quality work and become successful.

Author Bio: This article was written by a guest author. Dwayne Thomas is a marketer and staff writer for  He welcomes your feedback on Twitter @DwayneThomas15.