In a gem of a client-agency scene in a recent episode of “Mad Men” this season, Harry Crane is called into a meeting with a client to reassure them that Sterling Cooper & Partners’ media-buying technology is every bit as good as that of rival Grey, whose new computer has been written up in The New York Times.
Thinking on his feet, Harry dismisses the Grey story as “PR,” and explains that SCP uses an even more powerful computer.
While not technically lying (“I never said it was our computer”), Harry, like many agency folk, feels backed into a corner, and his first impulse is to smooth things over by misleading the client. It’s painful, but not uncommon.
The bonus here is a glimpse into the era when computers entered the ad buying world. Advertising Age had a great post about that. But I digress.
The lie Harry told probably wouldn’t hold up today (and later in the episode, we learn it may get him fired), but there are other fibs that agencies tell. I decided to poll colleagues at other agencies and came up with a modern-day list specifically for PR agencies.