Saturday, September 6, 2008

MAD Men, MAD Donkeys and the Origins of the Kilt

I'm asked a lot about the Kilt I wear.

Do I really wear one? If so, why? And why don't I shave my legs?

Good questions, all.

To be completely honest I started wearing the kilt after I lost a bet. One I was sure I would win. In fact, I stacked the odds so I would win. So much for my mathematical pretensions.

The "bet" started while writing an in-depth article with legendary creative impresario Ken Sutherland. It was about marketing and advertising stupidities, hilarities and some surprising successes encountered through the years in his career.

Ken has won numerous awards for marketing, advertising, and music, including: four Clios, more than 300 Gold Addys, two Gold Camera Awards, three Cine Golden Eagle Awards, two IBC Awards, and the London International Advertising Award. He’s also been voted to Ad Week Magazine’s All-Star Creative Team.

The article with Ken was fun. Educational, informative, lots of lessons learned from being burned. And some real scary, death-defying ( not TV death) moments of ... danger, that made me fall over laughing.

The title of the article was "Marketing & Advertising Donkeys (MAD) ... Shoot 'Em If You Got 'Em." And, it has stood the test of time. But -- a while after it was published some big-time media producers and execs in the TV industry cribbed the brilliant idea and concept of the MAD DONKEYS and turned it into hit TV drama "Mad Men."*

I predated the story concept by 2 years. Even the "MAD" part of the title. But I'm not MAD. In fact, I'm GLAD when anyone makes it with a concept I didn't flesh out and market properly. Actually, I took it like a man when I saw the title of first trailer and episode.

But - back to the bet. While doing the story with Ken, I made a bet with him on the naming of one of his projects - a huge mural in Dallas - largest actually in the state of Texas.

I asked him what he was going to call it.

He said "The Mural."

I assumed he was kidding about naming it “The Mural.” I mean what kind of uncreative, linear, inane and completely boring name is that? Especially from a creative impresario?

Right? You do agree, don’t you?

I mean … a no-brainer. Right?

Okay. It’s a descriptive name. No doubt what it means. But c’mon. “The Mural?”

So, he said "Bet?"

I said "Bet!" (we're both loquacious)

I bet it was named something else.

Then -- he whipped out a newspaper article. Showed it to me - it was about "The Mural."

I lost. That really was the damn name.

"The Mural."


I propose that, in a way, I won and was correct. It’s technically called “The Mural,” with caps and italicized. However, after an intellectual discussion of the various nuances and technical implications with Ken (which included a scene very much similar to this link), I, in the spirit of magnanimity, agreed that, indeed, he had won the bet (although, as stated earlier, technically I think capitalized and italicized letters do change the context of the name, therefore the essence of the name).

The bet?

Me wearing a kilt. I took it like a man ... if real men do wear kilts. I wore the revolting thing.

Interestingly enough, a size sixteen kilt fits me just dandy, the plaid design makes me look a little thinner … I’m keen on them now. They're sweet.

But … that was only one part of the bet.

The second part entailed me … riding a mechanical bull. It was a stellar learning experience in marketing and advertising.

The sight touched the heart of the assembled masses at Billy Bob’s Bronco Bull Riding Bar and Grille so much so that I was motivated to move as quickly as I have ever done to assure my lifelong dream (and to live a long life), which was, at that point ... getting out of Dallas alive.

So - that's the Kilt answer.

Now, do you want to see where Mad Men really got their start? From the MAD Donkeys article?** Here's the original story ---

Marketing & Advertising Donkeys (MAD) ... Shoot 'Em If You Got 'Em


* Creative speculation
** Super creative speculation.

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