Light up a Lucky, pour yourself a lowball of Maker's Mark, and settle down for two hours of fine TV. Mad Men returns Sunday.
To fill the restless hours until the show returns, here is some video and reading from around the Internet.
Mad Men, the greatest TV show about marketing since Bewitched, is sometimes described as a show about the Golden Age of advertising, but Droga5 creative chairman David Droga says the Golden Age is just starting now. Watch a video interview:
The proliferation of digital channels, along with increased customer resistance to ads, makes advertising more interesting and creative today than it was in the Mad Men era, when print was the main focus, with TV and radio secondary. "We might not dress as snappy as them, but I feel like there's more interesting things going on this year" Droga says.
Two women who could have served as role models for the show's Peggy Olsen speak out. Jane Maas was a creative director at Ogilvy & Mather during that era, working on General Foods and SC Johnson. Women weren't allowed to work on automobile accounts or financial accounts.
And Eleanor Clift writes at fascinating length about the show for Newsweek. Like Olsen, Clift started as a secretary from a blue collar background in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and rose to a position of responsibility. In Clift's case, she worked for Newsweek and ended up as a Washington correspondent.
The two days I spent hanging around the set of Mad Men were like entering a time capsule that took me back to that period in the ’60s, everything from the pencil skirts and stockings with garters to the electric typewriter that was the latest technology. Critics have assailed the way everybody on the show smokes, glorifying a nasty habit that carries significant health risks. But that’s the way it was then. The public high school I attended in Queens even let us out for a smoking break.
Both Maas and Clift say the workplace sexual promiscuity portrayed on Mad Men is pretty authentic; men back then treated the women (or should I say girls?) in the office like a shared harem, and some of the women saw sleeping with the men as a means of career advancement.
Another area where Mad Men takes heat is in its portrayal of race relations. None of the major characters is black, only one recurring character was. She was a maid, and she left the show after her character was fired. But Slate's Tanner Colby defends Mad Men, saying it's not the show that's to blame, it's the era.
Mad Men is an accurate portrayal of a lily-white culture. The show's ad agency, Sterling Cooper, is a midsized, struggling firm driven by a single genius -- Don Draper -- with a crew of mediocrities. All the characters are either hanging onto the aristocracy by their fingernails (like Pete) or desperate to become aristocrats (like Don). These are not people who would have taken risks by embracing racial equality; they would, instead, seek to fanatically preserve the status quo. And the show, as it enters the late 60s, is likely to see social change thrust racial equality on its characters and institutions.
Get caught up on the previous seasons of Mad Men with this refresher, which includes a YouTube clip of an old Leggs pantyhose commercial, and an aside about the role of swimming pools in the show that will be intriguing to former English majors.
Finally, Ad Age's Martin Bihl recommends a wheelbarrow-load of books written during and about that culture, including David Ogilvy's memoir, Confessions of an Advertising Man, which inspired Roger Sterling to publish his own memoirs. That book, Sterling's Gold, is in real life filled with Sterling's witticisms, wisecracks, and inappropriate remarks.
Just for fun, dish the dirt about our favorite dysfunctional marketers in the comments below.
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— Mitch Wagner , Editor in Chief, The CMO Site