Mad Men

What Would Don Draper's Salary Be If He Worked in an Agency Today?

Infographic Suggests That Don, Peggy and Pete Would Make Less Than $100,000 A Year -- and We Aren't Buying It

By Published on .

Source: Carrington

In case you missed it, there's an infographic making the rounds this week that attempts to assess what characters on AMC's Mad Men would make if we fast-forwarded 50 years to today.

And, boy, do they get it wrong. We've got some major bones to pick with the data points in the illustration, created by Carrington College, which offers various certificate and associate degree programs.

For one thing, it identifies Elizabeth Moss' character, Peggy, as a secretary who would today make less than $35,000. Meanwhile, on the show, she was elevated from a secretary several seasons ago and has become a highly respected creative executive. As a senior copywriter who oversaw members of a creative team, and was last season depicted as being recruited to another agency for any salary she chose to jot down on a slip of paper, she could have basically commanded that same salary back in the 1960's. Today, a creative in her role could make far, far more. (Especially if she lived and worked in New York.)

According to a survey commissioned by Ad Age with recruiting firm 24 Seven, salary is the No. 1 factor influencing job satisfaction, and starting salaries for account managers, copywriters and creative strategists are anywhere between $35,000 and $55,000 these days. Creative technologists and brand managers can command much more than that .

Let's face it, the best talent commands top dollar. So we find it hard to believe that a top new-business exec would make just $45,000 and are certain that someone comparable to Jon Hamm's client-charming, big-idea-spawning Don Draper could make at least 10 times the $80,000 figure this infographic suggests.

It wasn't all that long ago that Ad Age reported that chief creative officers at large U.S. agencies were, on average, billing a whopping $964 an hour to clients.

Many ad execs can reel in six and seven figures with ease, with senior-most leaders and ad holding company execs capable of bringing in $10 million and more when you count their bonuses and incentive compensation.

Where they're also woefully mistaken is the notion that there's no drinking or smoking allowed inside agencies today and the view that agency folk are less tolerant of alcohol use and tobacco use in the office than they were in the 1960s. Not necessarily.

Clearly the cats over at Carrington College haven't seen the new headquarters of ad holding company Havas on the outskirts of Paris, which boasts a large smoking lounge for its employees. They also appear to have no knowledge of the long list of in-house agency bars that exist, at places like BBDO, New York, JWT, New York, Arnold in Boston or Pereira & O'Dell in San Francisco. Agencies regularly host events for their staff and for their clients, and the notion of them even batting an eyelash at some drunkenness or a cigarette break is silly.

If you ask us, these folks need to hurry back to the drawing board and learn a thing or two about how Madison Avenue really functions today.

In this article:
Most Popular