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Who Does Copywriting for Mad Men?

The creative team behind ‘Mad Men’ has been in the news a lot over the past year. As the final season of the Emmy-winning period piece premieres next week, we’ve been fascinated with the process of creating the groundbreaking 1960s ad campaign. So much of it was done using traditional methods (e.g. pen and paper), but with plenty of modern techniques (e.g. spreadsheets, mood boards, and improv). We thought it would be fun to take a look behind the scenes of one of the most important ad campaigns of all time.

How Did ‘Mad Men’ Get Its Name?

For those who have yet to see Episode 9 of Season 7 of Mad Men, here’s a quick primer: the show is set in New York City in the ‘60s and mainly centers around a group of advertising creatives, or ‘Mad Men’. The show’s creators have said that the name came from an email that one of the characters sent to Peggy Olson (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh). The email said, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” We assume this refers to the practice of switching agencies mid-contract, as many of the characters on the show engage in this behavior.

Who Wrote the Memorable Ads?

One of the primary reasons why people love Mad Men is the iconic, retro-feeling ads they create. These ads, which always feature a pretty blonde woman, are what make the show so unforgettable. The ‘60s setting gives the creators plenty of opportunities to indulge in their love for old advertising images. Here are a few of the writers who brought those memorable ads to life:

  • Joe Alpes (“A Little Bit of Soap”)
  • Bobbi Townsend (“Why Buy When You Can Get It Free”)
  • Diane English (“Helicopter”)
  • Christopher Cerf (“The Chair”)
  • Gavin Purcell (“Come Back to Me”)
  • Mark Epstein (“The Jaguar”)
  • Scott Hornbaker (“The Little Brown Store”)
  • Jonathan Kilborn (“A New Image in Mind”)

How Does Copywriting Fit In?

For those who are curious, copywriting (also known as copyediting, content writing, or simply writing) is the process of crafting words (i.e. sentences, paragraphs, and stories) that will be used to persuade the reader (or listener or viewer) to take some kind of action. In the case of an advertisement, that action would be to buy a product or service. That’s quite a broad definition, but it sums up the role of a copywriter pretty well.

For decades, copywriting was considered an “essential” job in a newspaper or magazine office. Although the practice has been around for centuries, it really started to emerge as a “specialty” in the early 20th century. One of the first books to survey the field was Claude Bragdon’s 1927 The New Content Writing. The book, which is still in print, offers a comprehensive introduction to the topic. In it, Bragdon defines content writing as “a branch of journalism that deals with preparation of the copy (usually news items) for publication” and goes on to discuss the many specific writing tasks that come with that role.

Since then, the field has evolved to fit the digital age. Nowadays, content writers often specialize in creating compelling text for websites, brochures, social media posts, and other forms of digital advertising. That way, they can ensure that the right words are used to grab the reader’s attention and convince them to take a certain action. When it comes to Mad Men, the role of the copywriter is critical, as the show is based on a true story. In fact, the role of copywriter has been credited with helping to shape the entire look and feel of the ‘60s.

The Evolution Of Copywriting

If you’re curious, you can read more about the evolution of copywriting by visiting the website of copywriter and author Jeff Goins. On there, you’ll find an in-depth history of the field, along with information about what makes up a typical copywriting pitch. For those who want to dig even deeper, Jeff has also published a book about copywriting named The Art of Persuasion. If you’d like to learn more, you can also visit the American Association of Advertising Agencies website, which contains a wealth of information about the practice of advertising, including a career guide and news articles about the industry. As for those who love Mad Men, we hope this article has helped you to get a glimpse into the process of creating one of the most influential ad campaigns of all time. Next week, as we’ve been waiting for fans of the show to find out what happens, we’ll be patiently waiting for the renewed excitement that comes with the final episode.