The Most Important Idea in Advertising

What is the most important idea in advertising? As I’ve been reading about all the latest products being unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, I was reminded of my all-time favorite scene from the TV Show Mad Men. In the episode titled “The Wheel,” Don Draper and his company is tasked with presenting a pitch for Kodak’s latest product, a projector which they have dubbed “The Wheel”. How Don Draper pitches the product (and its new name) is nothing short of incredible. Just watch:

Following is the text of Don Draper’s pitch for “The Carousel”:

Well, technology is a glittering lure. But there is the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash. If they have a sentimental bond with the product…My first job: I was in-house at a fur company. This old pro copy writer. A Greek named Teddy. And Teddy told me the most important idea in advertising is “new.” It creates an itch. You simply put your product in there as a kind of calamine lotion. But he also talked about a deeper bond with the product. Nostalgia. It’s delicate but potent…”

Teddy told me that in Greek, nostalgia literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship. It’s a time machine. It goes backwards and forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again.

It’s not called the wheel. It’s called THE CAROUSEL. It lets us travel the way a child travels. Round and around, and back home again. To a place where we know we are loved. 

If you’ve never watched Mad Men and this clip doesn’t convince you to start watching it, nothing else will.

One thought on “The Most Important Idea in Advertising

  1. Eugene — thanks for sending this link via Twitter. Indeed, I remember this Mad Men episode. And isn’t this the scene that someone used to create a mock “Don Draper pitches Facebook Timeline” video (that was taken down after a few days)?

    Anyway, it’s so good. Thanks for reminding me about it.

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