Most people would probably say that being a white-collar worker in a corporate workplace is one of the most unglamorous paths you could choose for yourself.
And, well, I’m inclined to say that they wouldn’t be entirely wrong about that, but there’s always two sides to every coin.
While working in the same office every day isn’t for everyone, the constant adrenaline of working in a fast-paced environment may be exactly what others need to thrive. After all, some corporate jobs can be lots of fun, too!
In this article, we take a dive into the dynamic world of marketing and advertising through the lens of television.
This list of the best TV shows about marketing and advertising offers a fascinating blend of creativity, strategy, and behind-the-scenes drama that unveils the inner workings of this high-stakes industry.
From the cutthroat world of advertising agencies to the challenges of branding and consumer psychology, these shows are an exploration of the marketing universe, making them must-watch experiences for industry professionals, hopefuls and enthusiasts, and curious observers alike.
The Crazy Ones, CBS (2013 – 2014)
In The Crazy Ones, Simon Roberts is the charismatic and eccentric head of the prestigious Lewis, Roberts + Roberts advertising agency.
The more traditional members of the agency, such as Simon’s level-headed daughter and business partner Sydney, frequently disagree with Simon’s unconventional approach to advertising and his propensity for unconventional thinking.
With the help of their quirky team, the father-daughter duo manages the difficulties of obtaining high-profile clients, creating ground-breaking campaigns, and forming personal bonds.
Each episode focuses on a different advertising project and the hilarious and occasionally emotional misadventures that occur as the characters try to strike a balance between creativity and commercial success while juggling their own personalities.
Emily in Paris, Netflix (2020 – present)
Emily Cooper is a driven young woman from Chicago who accepts a dream position in an elite Parisian marketing firm.
So, Emily in Paris chronicles her attempts to adjust to the vibrant and sophisticated Parisian lifestyle while attempting to make a name for herself in the cutthroat field of marketing in one of the fashion capitals of the world.
Emily must juggle the complexities of both her professional and personal lives while offering her French coworkers a new and unique view from the United States.
Alongside all of that, she has to deal with racial tensions, romantic entanglements, and office politics as she immerses herself in the glamorous world of high-end fashion and risky marketing campaigns.
Trust Me, TNT (2009)
The focus of Trust Me is on the professional and personal lives of two talented, creative individuals working at a renowned Chicago advertising agency.
Conner and Mason are close friends and coworkers. Their creative synergy makes their partnership thrive, but when their company faces difficulties and corporate restructuring, their friendship is put to the test.
They must negotiate moral dilemmas, office politics, and personal ambitions as they move through the constantly changing and cutthroat advertising landscape.
Their friendship evolves as it navigates between creativity and business, illuminating the complexities of the advertising sector while probing the nuances of friendship and loyalty.
Mad Men, AMC (2007 – 2015)
Mad Men is set in the 1960s and explores the lives of the staff at the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency in New York City.
The main focus of the show is the mysterious and endearing character of Don Draper, the brilliant creative director with a complicated and shrouded past.
Viewers will also meet a cast of colorful characters, each facing their own unique professional and personal challenges in the high-stress world of advertising.
The series offers a nuanced portrayal of the advertising industry, its changing dynamics, and the complex interpersonal relationships and moral crossroads faced by its characters as they negotiate the pursuit of success, identity, and happiness against the 1960s’ shifting cultural and social landscape.
:30 Seconds, The Comedy Channel (2009)
If you’re in this very industry, the title of the Australian comedy series 30 Seconds might be quite familiar – it is, after all, a reference to TV commercial slots that are always roughly 30 seconds long!
The show centers around the lives of the talented and quirky employees at the fictional advertising agency BND Worldwide, where viewers join them at one of their 61 international offices.
Chief among the employees is the creative genius Kevin Jones, who must balance his career aspirations with client demands and his own creative aspirations.
The series highlights the creative process, client relationships, and the often absurd and hilarious situations that arise in the quest to craft memorable ad campaigns.
Free Agents, NBC/Hulu (2011 – 2012)
In the wake of the recent end to their respective relationships, Alex and Helen are hesitant to reenter the dating scene. Free Agents follows the lives of these two coworkers at a public relations firm in Portland, Oregon.
Their romantic and professional entanglements serve as the backdrop as they attempt to balance the complexities of their personal lives with the demands of the competitive worlds of PR and advertising.
By examining the ups and downs of contemporary dating, friendships, and the peculiar dynamics of office culture, the show provides a novel viewpoint on the difficulties of juggling work and personal relationships.
Happyish, Showtime (2015)
No one really wants to go through life feeling just happy-ish, but the central character of Showtime’s satirical dark comedy, Happyish, is right in that dilemma.
Thom Payne is a middle-aged advertising executive coping with the absurdities and difficulties of modern life as he navigates the constantly changing world of advertising.
He begins to doubt his career, personal life, and the pursuit of happiness, especially as things get even more complicated by the presence of his wife Lee, and their young son.
Happyish provides a satirical and provocative commentary on modern society by highlighting the difficulties of a midlife crisis in the advertising sector.
Ned and Stacey, Fox (1995 – 1997)
Ned and Stacey is a romantic comedy series that revolves around the unconventional marriage of Ned Dorsey and Stacey Colbert.
Stacey, a struggling writer, and Ned, an ambitious advertising executive, decide to fake their marriage for professional reasons – the former for the convenience of being able to move out of her parent’s place, the latter for a better shot at a promotion.
But as they deal with the difficulties of their newfound situation and their wildly dissimilar personalities and aspirations, their lives take unexpected turns.
The show focuses on the amusing and endearing situations that result from their unusual union, including their interactions with oddball friends and family members.
The Closer, CBS (1998)
Tom Cutler, a brilliant advertising executive renowned for his singular ability to close deals and land major clients, is the central character of another sitcom that CBS brings to the table: The Closer.
The show follows his professional and personal life. He is the picture of charm and assurance, which makes him a force to be reckoned with in the advertising sector.
After he uses his success and connections to form his own advertising agency, Tom navigates the competitive world of advertising with the help of his talented team, including a creative director, accountant, secretary, and even his estranged wife and daughter.
Together, they pursue high-stakes campaigns while attending to the demanding needs of clients.
Lisa, VTM (2021 – 2023)
The first foreign language show on our list hails from Belgium; it has aired six seasons (of several hundred episodes!) over three years and is in Dutch.
Lisa is a captivating drama series that puts the titular Lisa at the center, showing a young and shy but talented woman who works in a marketing agency.
In the pursuit of her marketing career, however, she discovers that her half-sister is also working in the same company, and to top it off, they have both begun falling in love with the same man.
All Lisa wants is happiness and love, but her personal life gets increasingly complicated amidst the already challenging demands of a career in marketing.
Ad Genius Lee Taebaek, KBS2 (2013)
Ad Genius Lee Taebaek is a South Korean TV series that centers around the life of its titular character, Lee Taebaek.
Lee Taebaek is a talented and ambitious young man who aspires to make a name for himself in the competitive world of advertising, but his lack of hands-on experience shows in his resume, and this becomes an obvious barrier for him.
The show follows his journey as he joins the advertising agency Geumsan Ad Company and navigates the cutthroat industry, facing fierce competition and office politics.
Alongside his colleagues, Lee Taebaek tackles challenging ad campaigns and strives to prove his creative prowess.
Agency, JTBC (2023)
Another great workplace drama from South Korea is Agency, a newer one that just aired earlier in 2023 and has since become one of the highest-rated K-dramas in cable TV history in the country!
The series forefronts a woman named Go Ahin, the leader of the production team at a prestigious advertising agency named VC Planning.
As the creative director, she is the first female executive of the company, and her drive to succeed comes from her history and experience with hardships growing up.
Outside of battling the difficulties of working in advertising, she must face her own battles as an executive surrounded by men.
Succession, HBO (2018 – 2023)
HBO’s Succession is an emotional family drama depicting the power struggles and struggles of the wealthy Roy family, owners of a global media conglomerate named Waystar Roy Co.
The family, led by powerful patriarch Logan Roy, is fighting for control and succession of an empire that includes major media and entertainment properties.
The show primarily follows Logan’s children Connor, Kendall, Roman, and Shiv – all talented within their own realm of expertise – as they each struggle for their own identity while navigating the world of corporate politics.
Not only are they all vying for a slice of the corporate pie, but they are also seeking their father’s approval, especially as his health begins a slow decline.
How to Make It in America, HBO (2010 – 2011)
How to Make It in America – the title seems straightforward, but the reality of the phrase is anything but.
This HBO comedy-drama series follows the lives of Ben Epstein and Cam Calderon, two friends with entrepreneurial aspirations in New York City.
While the duo starts small, they dream of making it big in the competitive worlds of fashion and streetwear.
Ben’s ex-girlfriend Rachel and Cam’s cousin Rene become integral parts of their journey, bringing their unique skills and connections to the table.
Set against the backdrop of the bustling city, it showcases the challenges, opportunities, and vibrant culture of New York and its fashion and marketing industries.
Mr. Selfridge, ITV/PBS (2013 – 2016)
Mr. Selfridge is a British period drama series that follows the life and career of Harry Gordon Selfridge and his pioneering efforts to revolutionize the retail sector with the opening of the renowned Selfridge’s department store in London.
This early 20th-century period drama goes in-depth on the difficulties and successes he encounters while creating a retail empire, covering everything from marketing plans and customer service innovations to hiring a diverse workforce.
Mr. Selfridge provides an engrossing portrait of the changing retail and marketing industries during this pivotal time in history, and it also explores Harry’s personal life, including his relationships with his family and the various people who cross his path.
The Bold Type, Freeform (2017 – 2021)
Jane Sloan, Kat Edison, and Sutton Brady, three young women who work at the fashion and lifestyle magazine Scarlet, are at the center of the drama series The Bold Type.
The show, which is filmed in the bustling center of New York City, follows their journeys as they negotiate the cutthroat worlds of journalism, fashion, and advertising.
Writing engaging articles, operating social media, and managing advertising partnerships are just a few of the obstacles each of the women must overcome in order to advance in their careers.
Inspired by the life of Joanna Coles, the former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, The Bold Type provides a captivating portrayal of the aspirations of the millennial generation amidst the changing media and advertising landscape!
Silicon Valley, HBO (2014 – 2019)
Silicon Valley is a satirical, hilarious look into the competitive and unexplored world of technology and advertising.
It follows a group of tech-savvy friends and entrepreneurs as they navigate the cutthroat and eccentric Silicon Valley while getting into mischief.
Richard Hendricks is a gifted programmer who develops a ground-breaking compression algorithm and launches a startup called Pied Piper with the help of his friends after being thrust into the center of the tech sector by his invention.
Along with his eccentric group of coworkers, Erlich Bachman and Dinesh Chugtai, they deal with a variety of obstacles, such as securing funding, contending with rival businesses, and coping with their own eccentricities and insecurities.
Girlboss, Netflix (2017)
The next show is another that’s based on a real-life person – Sophia Amoruso, and the autobiography she wrote titled #Girlboss.
Amoruso is the founder of the retail brand Nasty Gal, and the Netflix series Girlboss chronicles her journey from an unconventional, underprivileged young woman in San Francisco to a successful businesswoman.
When Sophia discovers the world of vintage clothing and begins to sell her finds online, her entrepreneurial spirit is sparked.
She encounters the difficulties of starting and operating her own business along the way, including locating inventory, managing marketing, and handling setbacks on both a personal and professional level.
It’s a truly inspiring tale of one woman building her fashion empire!
Ugly Betty, ABC (2006 – 2010)
Betty Suarez is a smart, tenacious young woman with a very distinctive sense of style, and she is the protagonist of the dramedy series Ugly Betty.
Despite not meeting conventional beauty standards, Betty is hired by the prestigious fashion magazine Mode.
Betty encounters obstacles and discrimination because of her appearance as she works her way through the glamorous yet competitive world of fashion and advertising, but she relies on her wit and determination to succeed in her position.
Betty manages a variety of editorial and marketing tasks with the help of her coworkers, including the charismatic editor-in-chief Daniel Meade, while breaking barriers within the competitive industry.
The Pitch, AMC (2012 – 2013)
Lastly, we have one reality TV series about marketing!
The Pitch offers viewers an entertaining insider’s glimpse into the world of advertising and marketing.
Each episode pits two advertising agencies against each other to vie for a real client’s business, where they need to develop innovative advertising campaigns that address the requirements and goals of the client within just seven days.
Viewers witness the creative process, brainstorming sessions, pitches, and the fierce competition that develops between the agencies, showcasing the high-pressure environment, inventiveness and creativity, and strategic thinking required in the advertising industry.