What Mad Men Teaches Us About Money

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For Daily FinanceAnnalisa Kraft-Linder writes: Millions of Americans are addicted to “Mad Men,” the AMC drama chronicling the lives of the people at ad agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Enthralling us over seven seasons are their mostly sordid sex lives, boozy business lunches, snazzy apartments, period clothes and finned Cadillacs.

“They say money can’t buy happiness, but it sure as hell buys everything else.”

— Bob Benson

Although money is rarely addressed, suck-up Bob Benson of season six (James Wolk) sums up their attitudes neatly: “They say money can’t buy happiness, but it sure as hell buys everything else.” Here’s what else you can learn about money from the hit show, which wraps up this year.

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‘Happiness Is the … Freedom from Fear’

Agency creative director Don Draper (Jon Hamm) leads a complicated life. He had been on unscheduled leave after a major meltdown in front of the Hershey (HSY) clients. He conspires with his former secretary to keep his family in the dark about his out-of-work status. His relationship with his work and money is so tied in to the ’60s concept of the masculine breadwinner that on the April 27 episode he finally admits his fear to wife, Megan (Jessica Pare),”If you found out what happened, you wouldn’t look at me in the same way.”

“I’m just acknowledging that life, unlike this analysis, will eventually end, and someone else will get the bill.”

— Roger Sterling

Draper could have taken a job at another agency for less money but submits sheepishly to be part of the SCDP fold under humiliating conditions to keep up his lifestyle and win back Megan.

In today’s dollars, he earns $356,000 a year, yet he can’t support his lifestyle in Manhattan, private schools, first-class fights and Hawaiian vacations. He, like other people of that time, also doesn’t use credit cards much, as they were a relatively new phenomenon. To this man, who grew up in a Depression era bordello, cash is still king.

For Draper, “Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear,” as he pitches to the Lucky Strike clients in the pilot. Booze, babes and bread are only means to quiet his mind over his secret identity and hardscrabble past.

Takeaway: Fight to keep that job — even if it means compromise.

The Power of a Job You Like

Agency partner Roger Sterling (John Slattery) is unwilling to help out his newlywed daughter financially yet is more than willing to throw wads of cash to bed partners and alimony to ex-wives. He does tries to do right by his new son with former secretary Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks). But overall, money for him is just a means to keep score and keep scoring. He is known for his zingy one liners, such as what he says to his psychiatrist: “I’m just acknowledging that life, unlike this analysis, will eventually end, and someone else will get the bill.” But the most endearing thing about Sterling is a lesson to everyone: when you treat work as fun (and boy, does he) you will likely succeed.

Takeaway: Find work that engages you….(read more)

DailyFinance


2 Comments on “What Mad Men Teaches Us About Money”

  1. […] Pundit from another Planet For Daily Finance, Annalisa Kraft-Linder writes: Millions of Americans are addicted to “Mad […]


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