Chasing a-ha moments: The second everything makes sense
Spoiler alert: If you didn’t watch Mad Men (WHAT?) or at least haven’t seen the finale (GO WATCH IT NOW), and you think you might want to, proceed with caution.
That sound. It’s the birth of a great idea. The second everything makes sense. The a-ha moment.
Creative-types like me love to watch creative-types on television, and Don Draper and Peggy Olson were no exception. The writers of Mad Men magicly blended the social challenges of the 1960s with the boom of the New York City advertising scene — their characters perfectly plagued by identity crises, moral dilemmas and, of course, their next pitch.
Those pitches, often of familiar vintage brands, were my favorite part. Not only was it a thrill to watch women like Peggy and Joan rise to the top of their industry in the ’60s, but I always felt like I was living their a-ha moments — as if I had written that Burger Chef pitch myself.
So it’s no surprise that when I watched the final scene of Mad Men, I had goosebumps for days. Critics have debated the meaning of the end, but I knew it — I knew that “ding” that sounded when Don sat on a cliff to meditate, having run off to a commune in California to “find himself,” walking out on his career and away from a job opportunity that would have given him access to major accounts like Coca-Cola (the silver tuna of advertising). Many argued Don desperately sought peace — certainly he did — but just when we thought Don had found it in this new environment, a second ding chimed. His final a-ha moment surfaced. With his eyes closed and a smile creeping across his face, he envisioned his greatest campaign — hundreds of people of all walks of life in a field, singing in perfect harmony about buying the world a Coke (one of the soft drink company’s most memorable commercials in the ‘60s).
Peace for Don was his career. He was addicted to the adrenaline of the idea.
When you hear it, that faint pitch in your subconscious sets off surge of inspiration. The a-ha moment makes the hair on your arm stand and the thoughts in your mind go wild.
More importantly, though, the a-ha moment is the intersection at which everything about your message is understood. You’ve found the perfect combination of words and visuals to communicate effectively, in a way that evokes emotion and compels people to act.
For creative people, the a-ha moment is the crowning achievement. Finding it can be grueling, mind-boggling work. It requires a deep understanding of a brand, and an emotional connection to the people who interact with it. I love the way I feel, though, when the moment arrives. I love hearing clients say, “Ohhh, that’s it.” And I love seeing their customers’ faces at the exact moment their mental lightbulb turns on.
At P& P, we are constantly chasing that a-ha moment for our clients and ourselves. Come along with us and listen for the ding. Your brand will be better for it.