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Sterling Cooper Should Let Don Draper Go

(See the end-of-post addendum for an obligatory disclaimer.) don_s2_517×307.jpgLet's face it, Don Draper's recent performance as creative chief at Sterling Cooper in New York has been terrible. He may be popular in the office, but that doesn't sell advertising. It's time for Draper to go.

Draper's actual contribution to the creative department in the last couple of years has been patchy at best. Sure, he's good at summing up a meeting or providing some overall direction, occasionally. But more often than not Draper can be seen goofing off to watch French movies in the afternoon, or reading a book in the office. The real heavy lifting at Sterling is increasingly being done by his team, specifically the recently promoted copywriter Peggy Olson.

Worse, when the agency went into negotiations for a buyout by London's Putnam, Powell & Lowe, Draper went AWOL in Los Angeles, leaving Pete Campbell from account services without a car trying to land new aerospace accounts on his own. (He came home empty-handed despite believing he's thisclose to landing a piece of new business.) Would Campbell have gotten that account if Draper had actually showed up for work? We'll never know.

Draper has been a liability as much as an asset. No one has forgotten that after signing Utz chips and comedian Jimmy Barrett for the commercials, Draper then managed to jeopardize the business by sleeping with Barrett's wife, Bobbie. The fact that after Barrett then insulted the wife of the Utz client Draper still made peace between the parties just goes to show that Draper seems to spend as much time rescuing his businesses as he does actually working on them. And he wasn't even around to save Clearasil when that account walked out the door due to a family spat with the client.

Now it emerges that despite being a 12.5 percent partner, Draper is without a contract. New Sterling president Duck Phillips may be a blowhard, but he's right about one thing: Sterling's creative sell-through isn't that great. (Remember how they failed to persuade Maidenform on a new campaign earlier this year?) The newly merged agency needs to concentrate on using its size in the marketplace.

Draper should pack his cardboard box and leave.

(NOTE: Needless to say, this post is a parody of what we'd probably write were the fictional Sterling Cooper agency -- as portrayed in the AMC show "Mad Men" -- actually real. No actual agencies or ad execs were harmed in the production of this post.)

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