What can Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss teach marketers?
Answer: a lot, as we discovered in yesterday’s #Demand13 closing session, where our crowd of marketers got to ask Elisabeth about marketing, women in the workplace and, of course, her role as Peggy Olson. Here are our five favorite questions and answers.
1. As a female working in Hollywood, brand management seems to be top of mind for so many and that line between approachability and lofty star can be somewhat fine. Has playing Peggy caused you to have a similar epiphany about yourself as an actress, about Hollywood and the film industry?
EM: I’ve been doing this for so long. I’ve been in this business for 20-something years. The biggest thing you learn is to be yourself. That’s the most important thing.
I think that’s what people connect with somebody like Jennifer Lawrence, she’s real. It’s honest. She is just being herself, and I think that’s what people respond to.
I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to be or a way that you’re approachable or a way that you’re not. The only wrong thing you can do is to be disingenuous. People know when you’re faking it and when you’re putting on an act.
2. Less than 3 percent of women currently hold CEO positions. Much like Peggy a majority of women are in supporting roles. What steps do you think should be taken to increase that percentage in the next decade?
EM: The reason why Peggy gets where she is because she does good work, and that’s it. She does good work, she believes in it and luckily she has somebody who sees it and helps her push it through and gives her a hand in Don. But she does a good job. That’s the strongest hand that women can play is that they’re good and they have good ideas.
I went to this event in LA recently for women in film. The statistics that we heard about women in our industry is just unbelievable. You think that we’ve made so much progress, and we have made a lot of progress since the 60s obviously, but it kind of seems there’s so far to go.
3. Who do you think is more successful in today’s marketing world? A Joan who uses her womanly charms to get what she wants or a Peggy who tries to beat the boys at their own game?
EM: Joan owns who she is and she doesn’t try not to be sexy. That was the whole question with Peggy for so long was from the first season was “How do I be a woman in a man’s world? Does that mean I can’t dress sexy? Does that mean I’m not supposed to look feminine?”
That’s when she gained all that weight in the first season. She didn’t know who she was and who she was supposed to be.
She finally after a few years has gotten to a place where most women are today in business where you own yourself. It’s okay to dress nice. It’s okay to look feminine. You’re still going to be taken seriously even if you look pretty.
I think that’s definitely a massive thing that’s changed. I don’t really think it’s Joan or Peggy. It’s a combination of the two. I don’t think it’s either one of them. I don’t think Peggy has to be a man and Joan doesn’t have to not be a woman these days.
4. Has the marketing of Mad Men been a success?
EM: I think they’ve done a really good job. There wasn’t a lot of money. It was on a network that nobody knew and just showed movies. It was a show about advertising in the 1960s and that’s never been done before. People didn’t know what it was. It was slow and you had to watch it.
So I think that they did a really good job, but I also think the show is really good. It was a good idea. And it was a good product. They just needed to see it.
They did a great advertising campaign. Over the first season, they had great ads and used an Amy Winehouse song and that was a very popular song. I can’t believe they got it.
We had this big subway campaign in New York and cool ads and cool packaging. AMC did an incredible job for the amount of money they had, but it was a good product and that’s what sold it.
5. You need to be convincing and consistent take after take after take. A lot of us are in the corporate spotlight, making presentations and pitches. What do you tap into before the director says ‘action’ to be convincing to the camera?
EM: Playing a character is maybe different than being yourself. A common thing either way is relaxing, being open and being comfortable.
When I’m uncomfortable, insecure, really nervous or not confident in what I’m doing, that’s when I’m not good. That’s when I can be at my worst. But if you believe in what you’re doing, you’re confident, you really know it and feel like you’re really comfortable with it, that’s when you can be your best.
Being unprepared is the worst thing for an actor, and it’s probably the same in this situation. That’s when you lose your confidence and you don’t believe in what you’re doing, don’t believe in what you’re saying and then no one believes it. No one’s going to believe in it if you don’t.