“I gotta tell ya, this Simon Roberts is way closer to me than Don fucking Draper.”
George Lois, ad man extraordinaire, has just watched the first episode of The Crazy Ones, a new comedy series from David E. Kelley starring Robin Williams as Simon Roberts, an eccentric advertising genius who rebrands failing businesses, charms his way through meetings, and persuades Kelly Clarkson to sing for McDonald’s. Lois—the man behind the “I Want My MTV” campaign, the creation of VH1, countless iconic ads, and those ’60s Esquire covers everyone’s still trying to top—has in recent years been called the original Don Draper. He’s not a fan of this comparison. Now 82, Lois may recognize a bit of himself in The Crazy Ones, which premieres September 26 on CBS, but he has also spotted some serious flaws. To wit: ad campaigns must have wit.
Here, the godfather of the Creative Revolution—who has never bitten his tongue in his life—explains why Mad Men and its ilk don’t get it right, and, in a nod to his most recent book, offers some damn good advice for producers who want to portray his world.