Friday, March 06, 2009

In Advertising We Trust

[Today's post is from Claudia Zellman, Account Supervisor at R+K]

So I set my TiVo to record TNT’s new drama Trust Me many months ago in anticipation of a series centering on two best friends working as creative partners at a top-ranked Chicago ad agency.  I mean, hello? Advertising, Chicago, it sounds like programming tailor made for me.  I pictured The Office but about the ad biz instead of the paper industry.  Perfect! Then by the time the show finally started, I had forgotten all about it. I didn’t hear any chatter around the office, no big hype or ratings that I saw. 

Last week, I got a call from my father-in-law who had started watching it asking me how “real” or how “funny” I thought it was. Turns out the first two episodes had already been collecting dust on my DVR so I finally sat down to watch and see if I was missing anything. 

So, what can I tell you? Is it true to life? Entertaining? So far, I would say yes. It’s definitely filled with clichés – the writers know what they are talking about having worked in the industry for 20 years at well known agencies like J. Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett. I was extremely impressed that they went through all the trouble of creating a website for their “fake agency” – complete with client extranet!! Very realistic (here).  

I imagine that the success of AMC's Mad Men could have had something to do with the premise of the new show. Who knew advertising would be so relatable and interesting to the masses? Or are we just talking to ourselves? Well, that’s where the jury is still out for me. Mad Men is this retro, glamorous, un-politically correct drama with well written plots and smart scripts that is more about the era than about an accurate depiction of advertising. The humor in Trust Me is certainly a refreshing departure from the soap opera drama in Mad Men but I wonder if people outside of the industry will relate too. 

My focus group of one, my husband, thinks yes (but he doesn’t count because he already has kind of an insider perspective from my raves and rants about my job!). The tidbits from real life, like the unveiling of the Effen campaign and mentions of well known brands like Dove and Potbelly’s is rewarding somehow and may just be enough for people to get hooked. 

I personally don’t know if I can unwind from the work day watching another show about work! Even if it made me chuckle, it also made my stomach turn when things weren’t going well for the Agency. So jury is still out for me, I really wanted to like it but think it got off to a slow start. 

Now let the virtual office cooler talk begin…..what do you think???…….  


  1. the real question is: did you tivo past the ads?

  2. I watched the show for the first time two weekends ago and my first impression was not good. In fact, I thought the show was so stupid. Perhaps it was the episode I watched, but it was enough for me to never watch it again. It was so unrealistic; the agency was informed its "Art Mobile" account,which is a ficticious cell phone manufacturer, was put into review the day before a TV shoot. As a result, all budgets were placed on hold. The team lead was so upset that he collected all the team's Art Mobile cell phones, placed them in a sack and proceeded to pound the you-know-what-out of it. Then he locked himself into his office where he drank himself into an oblivion. Meanwhile, the creatives, played by Eric McCormick and Tom Cavanaugh, decided to do the TV shoot anyway hoping to charge the hard costs to the Agency under the radar. *Puh-leze*
    I don't know how the story ended because I couldn't finish watching the episode. I thought it was a total waste of my time.

  3. Yeah, Amy, I agree, I am still struggling. I have a couple more episodes on my DVR but no real eagerness to watch them. There are too few bright moments in the over-the-top/jump the shark nature of the "drama".
    still not a fan.