Mad Men is a fictional television show about a team of Madison Avenue advertising experts centrally focused on their Creative Director – Don Draper.

Up until season four, the company relied heavily on Lucky Strike cigarettes as an advertiser. In the end, their relationship dissolved and Don Draper decided to run a campaign in the New York Times (without the consent of the team) to denounce cigarettes.

don draper why im quitting tobacco


Recently, my advertising agency ended a long relationship with Lucky Strike cigarettes.

And I’m relieved.

For over twenty-five years, we devoted ourselves to peddling a product for which good work is irrelevant, because people can’t stop themselves from buying it. A product that never improves, causes illness, and makes people unhappy.

But there was money in it. A lot of money.

In fact, our entire business depended on it. We knew it wasn’t good for us, but we couldn’t stop.

And then, when Lucky Strike moved their business elsewhere, I realized, here was my chance to be someone who could sleep at night because I know what I’m selling doesn’t kill my customers.

So as of today, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce will no longer take tobacco accounts. We know it’s going to be hard.

If you’re interested in cigarette work, here’s a list of agencies that do it well: BBDO, Leo Burnett, McCann Erickson, Cutler Gleason & Chaough, and Benton & Bowles.

As for us, we welcome all other business because we’re certain that our best work is still ahead of us.


Donald F. Draper
Creative Director
Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce

In the next week, every tobacco hating company (including government agencies) moved their business to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. This ad was effective because of three components.

1. It told a story. Stories sell because stories disarm readers. The moment we begin, we generally must finish. This reminds me a lot of how Eichler sold $1MM of her book by telling a story.

2. Draper took a position. A lot of people and/ or businesses fear taking a side. By taking a side means that you’re not taking someone else’s side, which means conflict. Plus everyone has a fear of missing out (FOMO) – am I picking the right team or position?

For example, by saying that you are a wedding photographer means that you are not a pet photographer, senior portrait photographer, or landscape photographer. While you might lose out on a big portion of the pie, your clearly focused position would help own the wedding photography market … rather than being some loosely focused not-sure-what-I-specialize-in photographer.

Just in case if you want to photograph weddings, pets … and anything that pays, I might have a solution.

3. Draper denounced everything else. By taking a clear position means that you’re clearly not everything else.

Draper demonized the other agencies as if they’re the bad guys. “If you’re interested in cigarette work, here’s a list of agencies that do it well …” By having a shared enemy unites your fans.

This is the start of brand evangelism.

Take Tofurious for example. I write “marketing strategies for smart photographers.” It says it on the logo. Therefore, my readers won’t include dumb photographers who don’t believe in solid marketing strategies. Since you’re reading this, you’re smart 🙂

Selling As a Photographer

As I mentioned earlier, it first starts with taking a position. While Draper used positioning in a marketing aspect (through an advertisement), you could also use it in a sales consultation! Here is a screenshot from my social media marketing book, which I dedicated an entire chapter on brand evangelism.

brand evangelism

Sound familiar? Almost like Draper’s advertisement only that I’ve been saying this since 2007 as a wedding photographer. I missed my calling …

lawrence chan mad men

Happy positioning,

Lawrence Chan

P.S. A lovely note by Jennifer Ellis about my Social Media Marketing for Digital Photographers book:

I really enjoyed your book. I read it on my way to and from Ireland.

I’m already starting to read it a second time so I don’t miss any crucial details.

P.P.S. In case you didn’t see the behind the scenes video I filmed for Wedding Style‘s fashion shoot, check it out!