Top Five Don Draper Pitches from Mad Men

Don Draper, smooth man of Manhattan advertising firm Sterling Cooper, has come up with many excellent product pitches over six seasons of Mad Men. It's hard to draw up a definitive list, but here are the five which made the biggest impression on me. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

5. "How do you say Hamburger in Farsi? Hilton." For Hilton Hotels

Don Draper has to deal with the difficult Conrad Hilton, founder of the Hilton Hotel chain, in one season 3 episode. Draper's campaign focuses on the fact that Hilton offers the comfort of home in exotic locations. A very clever idea for a campaign, but Conrad wanted the moon.


4. "Everyone else’s tobacco is poisonous, Lucky Stripe is toasted." For Lucky Stripe

In the very first episode, Draper has to find a new way to market cigarettes now that the government has banned advertisers from claiming they are healthy. In a staggering display of Draper inspiration, he seizes on a minor aspect of Lucy Stripe's production technique and uses it as a selling point.

When the client points out that all cigarette firms ‘toast’ their tobacco during manufacture, Draper reminds them that customers do not know this. This informs the consumer that Lucy Stripe makes quality cigarettes, where as all they know about other brands is that smoking kills.

3. “Some things never change.” For Heinz Beans

The firm struggles to come up with a campaign for Heinz Beans that is not ridiculous. Rejected ideas include a bean ballet that borders on the ludicrous. It is Don’s wife Megan who comes up with a simple idea of showing families through history enjoying wholesome plates of beans. A simple idea which manages the difficult task of making beans desirable.

2. “This device is not a space ship. It is a time machine.” For The Carousel

In a rare moment of intimacy, Don Draper puts photographs of his own family into a slide projector, as the firm pitch to its manufacturers. The result is a slow emotional tug at the heartstrings as the happiness in these images is the inverse of Draper’s rapidly collapsing vision of 1950s domesticity. This is the perfect emotional note on which season one ends and shows that Draper can only expression himself emotionally when talking about a product.

1. “Finally, something beautiful you can truly own.” For Jaguar

In perhaps the tensest episode of Mad Men ever, Draper has to pitch to the famous luxury car firm. You have not arrived in the Manhattan advertising industry until you have a car as a client, and the characters spend several episodes trying to ensure the Jaguar pitch goes smoothly. When it is eventually unveiled, it is a work of genius, Draper talks about unattainable desire and how advertising can fill the gap. In the end, he reveals a slogan that is simple but fills the heart with a lust for this overpriced car.

These are my favourite pitches. What have I left out? When did Don Draper inspire you?

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