It seems hard to imagine.
Despite the rampant sexism, misogyny, racism, homophobia, alcohol consumption and nicotine addiction, 1963 was a stylish era, and a moment in time presaging enormous change. The show opens just before the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers, Dr. King and Malcolm X. Before Vietnam was a war. Before Neil Armstrong's (or Michael Jackson's) moon walk. Before the Stonewall Riots. And just as Betty Friedan's "Feminine Mystique" was first published.
And yet, despite all that -- or perhaps because of all that was to come -- Madison Avenue advertising agencies were creating ads for the mediums of the day that were edgy, smart and provocative. And which sold lots and lots of stuff.
Today's equivalent bears little resemblance to the fictional Sterling Cooper ad agency of 1963. Starched petticoats and skinny sharkskin suits have been replaced by cargo shorts, flip-flops and T-shirts displaying logos from dead-pooled Silicon Valley start-ups. Two-martini lunches have been supplanted by organic arugula salads to-go. Stylish Madison Avenue digs have been ditched for rehabbed South of Market warehouse lofts.
In the season opener, the series' main ad man, Don Draper, gets an inspiration for a new print ad for his client, London Fog, while flying home from an infamous business trip, which his colleague sketches for him -- by hand -- the same afternoon. In what passes for a TV series 45 years from now, will a smart keyword strategy and clever PPC ad copy be the stuff of plot twists and dramatic narratives?
In fairness, the work of interactive marketers can produce its own drama. Promote a meme, watch it go viral, be ready with your keyword lists and timely PPC ads, and -- bam! -- you're selling lots and lots of stuff. (I suppose it would help if, after calculating the ROI of the effort and high-fiving their success, the co-workers who devised the campaign got drunk, cheated on their spouses, and had dirty, dirty sex.)
We, too, stand at the precipice of great change. I wonder if 45 years hence, folks will watch in awe at how it is we navigated the collapse of the fourth estate and the installation our nation's first African-American president. Will the raging debates around healthcare for all seem shocking? Will audiences be amused by tea party protests, meet-ups, tweet-ups, and mash-ups? Will the escapades of skateboarding billionaires and goth-girls from the wrong side of the tracks captivate millions?
Think about it: the babies born right now will one day be middle-aged and watching their kids go off to college. And it's entirely possible they'll be enraptured by a TV-like drama documenting the rise of real-time search, mobile search and social search... Riveted as a tattooed-and-pierced young woman in torn jeans and a tank top struggles to promote various flavors of free on a new search engine called Bing ("Is it free-free, freemium-free, or ad-supported free?").
But enough of all that. I guess I'd better get back to my own campaign work. There are Web sites out there that need more traffic. Still, whatever I accomplish today, it's likely to be the stuff of legend -- gotta hope so, anyway.