SpearTalks: Peggy Olson

Posted on September 26, 2008 Under Life

Take some modern furniture, a liquor cabinet, and an endless supply of questionable ethics, and you have advertising in its heyday. Surround that with a white picket fence (and some very good bone structure), and you have Mad Men, AMC's sparkler of a series that's been making it okay to watch television again.

Dirty, juicy, and maybe even a bit creatively inspiring; Mad Men and its supporting characters have spawned a league of dedicated fans. But what happens when those fans start pretending to be employees of Sterling Cooper"¦ and move into Twitter?

Ha. We interview them, of course.

Read on as Peggy Olson and I chat copywriting, office politics, and discontinued candy, then get in on the game here.

Joshspear.com: Tell us about yourself; how old are you, where are you from, what’s your favorite kind of pie"¦?

Peggy Olson: I'm 22 and I'm from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I don't really have a favorite kind of pie, but Ma makes an apple pie that all the ladies at church rave about.

JS: It’s very forward thinking for a woman living in your time to have a Twitter account. You must have wired your typewriter — smart. What other hidden talents do you have that we don’t know about?

PO: Since moving into my new apartment, I've become really interested in decorating. I don't know if I have any talent in that regard yet, but I've become very resourceful at spiffing things up on a budget.

JS: You’re not like the other girls at Sterling Cooper. In fact, you’re in the awkward position of knowing both sides of the story; the girls being floozy, and the men being unfaithful. What is it like knowing everyone’s secrets?

PO: I don't want to know anyone's secrets. In fact, I wish people would leave their personal problems at home. I just want to do my job.

JS: I’m going to let you in on a secret: Astro Pops will be discontinued in the 1990’s. That’s not really a question, just letting you know.

PO: I've never had an Astro Pop. Is that like a popsicle?

JS: You’re a copywriter, but do you hope to get into anything else one day– like art direction?

PO: I really enjoy being a writer. I don't think writers and art directors ever change places. We work together, but we do very different things.

JS: So, a 1950’s woman… how do you talk to her?

PO: You realize it's 1962, don't you? Perhaps you're referring to my sister. Her old-fashioned viewpoints come from the 1950's. But I don't think she's as happy with her life as she pretends to be.

JS: In advertising, it is sometimes a struggle to make clients understand where you’re coming from, or why your creative solutions will solve their problems (especially if they’re ones they don’t know they have). How much harder is this when you have to convince all the men you work with as well?

PO: It's been hard to get some of the other creatives and account executives at Sterling Cooper to respect my viewpoints. But Don Draper doesn't seem to care as long as I come up with winning ideas for our clients. I think if the agency is successful, the men at the top of Sterling Cooper don't care who does the work.

JS: If the Playtex campaign had been yours to direct, what would you have done differently?

PO: I would have focused more on the comfort of Playtex brassieres and the way they make women look with their clothes on. That seems more in keeping with the Playtex philosophy. The boys wanted to make Playtex undergarments seductive because that's what they care about. But they don't wear them or buy them.

JS: You deal with a bit of sexism (did that word mean anything in the 60’s? It basically means being thought of as inferior due to being a female), but not just from the men. Even those church ladies were hard on you. Do you think it has been good for you to have to work so much harder to prove yourself, or do you hate it?

PO: It's exciting to work in advertising "“- more so than other jobs. Working on Madison Avenue is the best. If I have to work harder to prove myself, I don't mind. I think I've already shown that I can have better ideas about what women care about. I think I can go far in this business.

JS: Did your Emmy win surprise you?

PO: I wanted Sterling Cooper to win big. And we did.

JS: One last question: How could you not know you were pregnant?

PO: I’ve never been pregnant. You must have me confused with my sister. I hope that clarifies things.