draper final beard

On April 13th, AMC’s Mad Men will enter its seventh and final season, and its central character, Don Draper, will reveal a lush, new beard for us all to marvel. Mad Men fanatics know that the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, is ultra tight-lipped about what will transpire in future episodes, so perhaps you all are thinking that I’m either full of beard trimmings or that I came across this information underhandedly by bribing one of the cast member’s with a carton of cigarettes.  I’m only, however, making an educated guess that I’d bet my copy of  Zou Bisou Bisou  on, and it’s backed up by some hard, historical trend evidence.

If history has taught us anything, it’s that lives and times are forever changing.  Though a person might think their core identity remains permanently fixed, the slightest cultural, generational, and ideological shifts could influence an individual’s psyche and reshape the way they act and physically present themselves.  No one show on television embodies this ethos like AMC network’s hit series Mad Men.

Over the course of the show’s first six seasons, we watched characters react, not just to other characters and plot twists, but to sociological and ideological shifts that occurred in U.S. history over the time span between 1960-1968.  The show elegantly portrayed old boys’ club bravado, women’s lib, East Village beatniks, the Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War, Beatle-mania, the Vietnam War, and very early seedlings of the hippie movement that is on the verge to blow up.  All of these events forced characters to rethink and evolve their own selves: how they talk, behave, and most notably, dress.  A few examples:

Paul Kinsey:  (Copywriter) Arrogant, poseur whose frequent trend jumping screams “Look at Me!”


Stan Rizzo: (Art Director) Newbie whose sophomoric antics evolve into pot smoking and a grizzly beard


Roger Sterling:  (Partner, Head of Accounts) Wise-cracking, hard-drinking, WWII vet whose womanizing brings about the adoption of studly sideburns to remain relevant with the younger crowd

sterling side x side

Don Draper:  (Partner, Head of Creative) Enigmatic, conflicted, and an existentially lost soul who hides behind a façade and refuses to change until he fully reconciles his past with his present

draper evolution

So why the beard?  Don Draper’s outward appearance remains frozen in time.  He effortlessly and suavely adapts to new names, new clients, new colleagues, new women, and new surroundings, but he’s done little to confront and make changes for himself.  He’s clung to self-lies the same way he hangs on to his slick hair, well-tailored suits, and clean-shaven ways, while everyone and everything else around him changes.  With the upcoming 70s approaching, he’ll need to be more open-minded and embrace change with a little more enthusiasm.  He’s got the free love part down, and he’ll need a beard to go with it.

Unlike Don, today’s modern advertisers can stay ahead of the trend curve with smarter, NLP-based social analytics.  Watch as history unfolds in real-time with NetBase.  Listening to social conversations and understanding the deep emotions and behaviors coloring people’s mindsets leads to better creative campaigns rooted in human insight.  NetBase can invigorate the entire creative process at every step of the way so that brands can mine more real-time insights to take their creative campaigns to new heights.

Much like the effects that the hippie sub-cultural movement held over male fashion and grooming trends of old, the hipster sub-cultural movement is doing the same today.  Facial hair is becoming the new norm, but do we really understand why this is happening?  Do we know the sentiment drivers behind how consumers feel and act?  What are the major motivators and barriers along the consumer journey as men interact with the shaving category?

Hamm-on, Hamm-off


NetBase’s state of the art NLP surfaces these trends and insights for you, so your next pitch can blow Don Draper’s most-ultimate-pitch straight out of the water (even if he’s sporting an epic beard).  Download our ebook on how to “Sharpen Campaign Messaging with Social Insights” if you want to learn even more.

Beard Insight Board





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