Barbie, Ken, Sterling, Cooper, Draper

Mad Men returns next Sunday, July 25, and a new line of well coiffed and clothed Barbie dolls – Mad Barbies – are in the wings. Will the new 4th season bring us as much pain and joy as the previous three?

Joan (will we see more of her?)

“When I hear ‘Mad Men,’ it’s the most irritating thing in the world to me,” rails advertising pioneer George Lois. “When you think of the ’60s, you think about people like me who changed the advertising and design worlds. The creative revolution was the name of the game. This show gives you the impression it was all three-martini lunches. We worked from 5:30 in the morning until 10 at night. We had three women copywriters. We didn’t bed secretaries. I introduced Xerox. It was hard, hard work and no nonsense. ‘Mad Men’ is typical of ‘The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit,’ those phony SOB’s. I was a Greek bigmouth, a Korean War veteran. I used my ethnicity to promote my talent. Before you knew it, most of the great creative talent was Italian, Greek and Jewish.”

Don (will he lose his charms?)

The series revolves around the conflicted world of Don Draper, says AMC’s promotion: “the biggest ad man (and ladies man) in the business, and his colleagues at the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Advertising Agency. As Don makes the plays in the boardroom and the bedroom, he struggles to stay a step ahead of the rapidly changing times and the young executives nipping at his heels. The series also depicts authentically the roles of men and women in this era while exploring the true human nature beneath the guise of 1960s traditional family values.”

So, will Don find happiness in his own agency? Will the design of their work markedly improve? Will they get any creative accounts or plummet into mediocrity? Will the men take off their ties? Will the women remove their girdles? Will a show about the a white shoe agency still be of interest? Will George Lois like the show any better?

We’ll have to wait until next week to find out. Stay tuned.  By the way, who is your least favorite character?

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11 thoughts on “Barbie, Ken, Sterling, Cooper, Draper

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  2. Michael Dooley

    Yes, they drank (and womanized) that much, even a decade later (see the above post about my Sterling Cooper summer).

    As to how they did it: well, you might say that life on the Avenue was somewhat less “intense” than it’s been in recent decades.

  3. Joanne Capella

    I watched last night’s episode and remembered why I was fascinated with “Mad Men.” It’s not the writing or the acting — it’s the impeccable art direction. It’s just spot on. I did live during that time period and everything looks very authentic. Unlike NBC’s short-lived “American Dreams; ” where overall the art direction wasn’t bad, but every once in a while I’d find something like a drinking glass or a sign that just wasn’t historically accurate, and that would set my teeth on edge.

    Another observation on “Mad Men,” everyone drinks hard liquor in every scene. Did they really drink THAT MUCH? If so how could they get anything done? I’d be under the conference table (if they office had one) by morning break!

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  5. Steven Heller Post author

    Admen have long been good film and TV fodder. Darren in “Bewitched” (“We’re nuts about our soup”), Mr. Blandings in “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse” (“If its not Wham its not ham”) and Victor Norman in “The Hucksters:”

    From TCM: War veteran and fast-talking adman Victor Albee Norman returns to his home in New York City, determined to land a high-paying advertising job with the Kimberly Advertising Agency. During his interview with the head of the agency, the nervous Mr. Kimberly, Victor secures Kimberly’s permission to take on the company’s toughest client, Evans Beauty Soap, which is run by the mercurial Evan Llewellyn Evans. Victor likes the idea of Kimberly’s new advertising campaign, in which twenty-five women, whose names have been selected from the social register, are to give testimonials for the soap in exchange for a donation to their favorite charity. The most important socialite on the list, Englishwoman Francis “Kay” X. Dorrance, is easily won over by Victor because she is in need of money, and she readily consents to have her publicity photograph taken. At the photographer’s studio, Victor and a representative from the Kimberly agency argue over how Kay should appear, with Victor defending Kay’s objections to being photographed in a sultry evening dress. The argument results in an emergency board meeting, during which Victor first becomes acquainted with Evans’ unconventional business style. To illustrate his point that consumers can be shocked into paying attention to advertisements, Evans startles the board members by spitting on the table.

    I can’t remember ever seeing a BIG IDEA or CREATIVE REVOLUTIONARY portrayed on TV.

  6. Michael Dooley

    Here’s why George Lois has been wrong, all along, about “Mad Men.” In brief…

    The first season was set in 1960. And Sterling Cooper was a WASP agency, in the pre-Bernbach, Ogilvy tradition. Matthew Weiner wasn’t following the birth and development of the creative revolution gang. He simply teased us at the very beginning of the first series, with a brief commuter train discussion of “Think Small.”

    And that was part of Weiner’s genius: to realize that THIS was the best way to build a dramatic arc. A Shrewd Idea as well as a Big Idea.

    When I was studying at Pratt Institute in the late 1960s, I worked in an old-school Madison Avenue ad agency one summer. And believe me, they were STILL turning out traditional advertising and taking three-martini lunches.

    Let’s be honest here. The reason that “Mad Men” has been irritating George Lois for the past three years because “Mad Men” hasn’t been all about George Lois.

    And regarding Steve’s “Will George Like the show any better?” tease: as I’ve been telling my students since season three’s closing episode: be sure to tune in for “Mad Men” Season Four: The George Lois Years.

    And now it’s next week! And YAY!

    ~ m