This week’s episode of Mad Men took us on a trip to the wild side. Coming on the heels of Pete Campbell’s meltdown we get to see Peggy struggle with self-doubt and the need to assert herself. Mind altering substances also share the spotlight and capture the environment of experimentation taking place on Madison Avenue in the ‘60s. It definitely was an adventurous time. On the business side, the critical role of creative leadership is explored through Don’s handling of the Heinz account with Peggy. Strong, involved creative leadership is a pivotal factor in the success or failure of an agency and it is clear that SCDP is lacking that right now. Don is backing away and shirking his responsibilities while Peggy is trying to step up and fill the vacuum. Neither is working out.
Heinz Act II – High Anxiety
Despite a poor reception to the agency’s first shot at the Heinz creative, Peggy and the team worked hard on a new campaign. They
put the ill-fated “Bean Ballet” experience behind them and moved on. Peggy recognizes that they need to hit a home run with their next presentation to solidify the account. While not an ideal situation, second and even third attempts at campaigns are a fact of agency life. Thick skins and resilience are essential virtues in creative departments. It is also a time when the creative director has to step up, provide clear direction and inspire creative teams to do their best work. Even though Don is disengaged from the work, Peggy is rightfully counting on him to be in the meeting to help sell the new campaign. When Don announces that he will not be there, Peggy is knocked back on her heels. Despite reassurances from the team that this is a vote of confidence from Don, Peggy is flustered and anxious. Everyone knows that Don’s blowing off the meeting for an insignificant visit to a Howard Johnson facility is a big mistake. Even Megan realizes that this is a bad idea and knows that she should be there helping Peggy pull off a successful meeting.