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'Mad Men': Will Don Draper become David Ogilvy?

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the hit

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the hit AMC TV series “Mad Men.” Hamm has been nominated for an Emmy award for his role in the drama series. (Credit: AMC)

I, like you, am intrigued by the interview Matthew Weiner gave to Grantland in which he said Don Draper -- Jon Hamm -- will end this historic TV journey as an 84-year-old. The pullquote has gotten a great deal of attention, and here it is again:

"I do know how the whole show ends," he told the site. "It came to me in the middle of last season. I always felt like it would be the experience of human life. And human life has a destination. It doesn't mean Don's gonna die. What I'm looking for, and how I hope to end the show, is like ... It's 2011. Don Draper would be 84 right now. I want to leave the show in a place where you have an idea of what it meant and how it's related to you."

What sort of intrigues me is this question -- will Don turn into sort of an elder statesman who exudes the wisdom of the ages in the selling game, or will he become a bitter, washed up has-been with an attenuated liver and a box full of war stories that no one wants to hear?

Obviously this could go either way, but let's take the positive route and suggest that Don turns into David Ogilvy, or an approximation of him. David Ogilvy: You know the name, of course. He was the British-born adman who probably became the only household name (with the possibly other exception of Mary Wells) from the ranks of the ad industry. His conquests were fabled -- he died in 1999 at age 88 -- and I suppose the most famous Ogilvy line was "Don't Leave Home without It." 

But -- and don't hesitate to correct me on this -- I think he was better-known as the big-think kind of advertiser, and less a writer of copy. His pronouncements about the art of advertising endure, but he ended up living this fabled larger-than-life life, at a villa in France, his great wealth intact. 

Is this where Don is headed? I'm not sure, but listen to some of these Ogilvy quotes and see if you don't think they could've come from the brain of Draper: 

Many people -- and I think I am one of them -- are more productive when they've had a little to drink. I find if I drink two or three brandies, I'm far better able to write.

Never write an advertisement which you wouldn't want your family to read. You wouldn't tell lies to your own wife. Don't tell them to mine.

The consumer isn't a moron; she is your wife.

There are very few men of genius in advertising agencies. But we need all we can find. Almost without exception they are disagreeable. Don't destroy them. They lay golden eggs.

Develop your eccentricities while you are young. That way, when you get old, people won't think you're going gaga.

Don't bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals.

First, make yourself a reputation for being a creative genius. Second, surround yourself with partners who are better than you are. Third, leave them to go get on with it.

I have a theory that the best ads come from personal experience.

I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination.

If it doesn't sell, it isn't creative.

If you ever have the good fortune to create a great advertising campaign, you will soon see another agency steal it. This is irritating, but don't let it worry you; nobody has ever built a brand by imitating somebody else's advertising.

The secret of long life is double careers. One to about age 60, then another for the next 30 years.

Tags: David Ogilvy , Don Draper , Mad Men , Matthew Weiner , Grantland , Jon Hamm

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