'Mad Men' Not so Different From Today's Mad Men
While it might have been a bit less than imaginative to begin Mad Men focusing so heavily on the impending doom of tobacco marketers, the AMC debut was quite good in our eyes and illustrates things haven't changed since "the good 'ol days." In an early scene talking with his boss about pitching a Jewish department store account and how it would be nice to have someone Jewish in the pitch, series's star Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm, offers, "you want me to run down to the deli and grab somebody."
Forty seven years later, agencies are still dancing with diversity, or the lack thereof, and how the racial makeup of people in a pitch still appears to be more important than truly embracing diversity in a meaningful way. What's that slogan? "We've Come A Long Way, Baby." Hardly. We might have female agency bosses but apart from Renetta McCann and a few others, the proverbial Madison Avenue is still very much the boys club it was in the days of Mad Men.
In another scene, our creative director hero, Draper, much like so many creative directors today, tosses a research report into the trash can and later concepts on the fly in a presentation...much like many creative directors today.
For those that maligned Jack Daniel's purchase of air time on the show, it was a perfect placement in context of the show. We especially liked the interspersed messages during the commercial breaks which offered up factual tidbits about advertising such as the Paramount logo being unchanged for the longest period of time among Hollywood movie studios. Oddly and perhaps out of some sort of fear of laying too close to the devil, there weren't too many ads at all beyond several DTC ads and some other innocuous, forgetful ones.
The show is full of the usual stuff. Bad behavior. Cheating. Thinly veiled racism. Sexism. Certainly much has changed since then in the world of advertising but equally as much is still the same: bad behavior, cheating, thinly veiled racism, sexism. What that slogan again?
UPDATE: One of the few people who has the right to provide a proper review of this show as opposed to the many of us were not even on this earth during the time period this show covers is George Parker who began his first Madison Avenue job at Benton & Bowles in 1964 at the age of 26. His take is here.