My First Week At Fast Horse: Not (Much) Like “Mad Men”

June 6, 2013
Kalie Caetano Fast Horse

Kalie Caetano

Howdy everyone, my name’s Kalie and I’m one of the new kids on the Fast Horse block. I’m taking a minute out my first week as an intern to introduce myself and share some first impressions of the new gig.

Before coming to Fast Horse, I was wrapping up my English degree at Macalester College, working as a writer and videographer for the college’s communications office and dipping my toe into the Twin Cities publishing scene with an internship at Milkweed Editions. Though the word “marketing” appears in every bullet point on my résumé, I’d never worked for a marketing agency before and all I knew of agency life was what I gleaned from watching six seasons of “Mad Men” (a dangerous precedent, I know).

Nonetheless, I was curious how the office culture of an agency would differ from the cultures of the other fields I’d worked in (higher education and arts nonprofits). I wondered to what extent the Fast Horse office would resemble the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce model. Would I be plunged into a world of unrelenting ambitions, secret identities, power plays and effusions of creative brilliance from a stoic head honcho dealing with an acute case of chronic existential woe?

Well, Day Two at Fast Horse and so far this agency is leagues away from SCDP. Perhaps most striking is the horizontal structure of the office that strikes a sharp contrast to the overt hierarchies characteristic of the professional world in “Mad Men.” The agency is pivoted around a collaborative principle reflected in the architecture of the building — a revamped truck maintenance garage in Minneapolis’ North Loop that contains no private offices.

The staff (a.k.a. the Fast Horse ponies) are a warm and inviting bunch, and despite all of the accounts and the attendant workload, stress is not in abundance here (of course this observation might be the product of a fresh-faced intern’s Day Two naïveté).

I’m also thrilled to report zero instances of 60s-era misogyny (a terribly important side note for a Women’s Studies minor who hails from a left-leaning college).

So let’s see, no chauvinism, office conspiracies or strict pecking orders. All in all, Fast Horse fosters an atmosphere decidedly opposite to that of SCDP in “Mad Men.”

Well, with one exception: The Fast Horse offices got style:

Now I sit in this burnt orange mod chair with Passion Pit pumping out of a stereo to my left while the rest of the ponies are parked at a long table munching on late lunches, hunching over laptops. They surface from their screens for an occasional confab and as I watch them I am reassured that this is a culture I can gel with and I’m super stoked for the coming months.