Have you ever watched an episode of “Mad Men” and not wanted to live Don Draper’s life? OK, maybe not all of it — maybe just a day or a single meeting. But there’s no denying the allure of “coolness” that the small screen brings to the creative agency lifestyle. Today, though, marketing executives focus a little less on in-office bar carts and a little more on modern definitions of being cool.
Unfortunately, our desire to defy the status quo and be more hip than everybody else has a serious downside. Within a company, being too edgy strangles creativity and creates corrupt silos that cause dysfunction and internal competition. And outside the company, clients see through the skinny jeans and ping-pong tables, and they start to question the agency’s priorities. The time has come for our agencies to stop competing to be the trendiest, to define our own senses of coolness, and to start leading our clients and employees to greatness.