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Made Men

OK, I can understand why Campbell feels blindsided by the decision to make him a co-head of accounts with Cosgrove.  Pete’s a nasty little weasel, as his dealings with women have shown, and he has a well-developed sense of entitlement, as we saw when he insisted he was the man for the job that eventually went to Duck Phillips.  But I was surprised that his reaction was more “how could they do this to me” than “I’m gonna leave that Cosgrove bastard in the dust.” Cosgrove, by contrast, took the move in completely good humor, understanding that Lane Pryce has explicitly set this up as a competition and rebuffing Campbell’s antagonism by saying, “They want us to hate each other.  I refuse to participate in that.” Later, Campbell whines to Trudy, “why can’t I get anything good all at once?”

The reason I’m surprised is that Campbell’s one distinguishing moment as an ad man—the one time he one-upped Draper (and would have lost his job for it, but for his family connections)—came when he went behind Draper’s back on the Bethlehem Steel account.  Back in episode 4 of the first season, Draper had come up with a campaign involving stylized city skylines with the tag line, “brought to you by Bethlehem Steel.” Chicago, New York, and so forth, in big letters, “brought to you etc.” in a smaller font at the bottom. Walter Veith, the Bethlehem executive, objected that the ads looked more like campaigns for the cities than like campaigns for Bethlehem, and he was right; the Bethlehem account is the one campaign for which Draper’s idea was, imho, a total clunker.  Contrast the “brought to you by Bethlehem Steel” with the inventive “it’s toasted” for Lucky Strike, the brilliant rejection of copywriter Paul Kinsley’s “space-age” theme for Right Guard in favor of “What does every woman want?  To get closer,” and of course the jawdropping “carousel” pitch for Kodak that closed season one.  The “brought to you” idea is just flat and unimaginative.  Pete, seeing an opening and still smarting from Draper snapping at him, “You do your job—take him sailing, get him into a bathing suit—and leave the ideas to me,” decides to sell Veith on “Bethlehem Steel—the backbone of America” while he’s, er, taking Veith “sailing” and getting him a “bathing suit.” Veith, of course, assumes that Draper deputized Pete to do so, and credits Draper with the idea the next day; Draper, of course, responds by accepting the credit and then firing Pete on the spot.  (The denouement, for those of you who haven’t seen it:  when Draper is overruled by Cooper, Roger Sterling tells Campbell that he and Cooper wanted to fire him but Draper went to the mat for him, thereby blunting some of Pete’s hatred for Don.  Not that that stops Pete from swiping Don’s mail and revealing Don’s seekrit identity later on.)

So Pete, for all his many faults, occasionally has a good idea, and certainly has a killer (or at least backstabber) instinct.  Perhaps that will come out over the course of season three as he clashes with Cosgrove, but for now it’s all whining.  I expected a bit more fight from the weasel.

And oh yes, my own tiny little experience in advertising?  Thirty years ago this summer I worked (typing, clerical, a little training for copywriting) for Sussman and Sugar, a small agency that dealt exclusively in advertising for the publishing industry.  Mr. Sussman had one corner office, Mr. Sugar the other.  Not a very exciting firm, since it didn’t do television; it was all print, very predictable, none of that fancy Della Femina stuff or that high-toned J. Walter Thompson brand.  And it was eated by Ogilvy and Mather later that year.  I continued to work summer jobs like that one, and for a while planned to go into advertising after graduation.  I went to graduate school instead, and saved my copywriting / creative talents for band posters and such things.  I really wasn’t bad at the campus-poster drill: when I was trying to sell my little refrigerator, my ad not only sold the thing in hours but got me a call from WKCR-FM asking if I would write copy for them.  But I totally would’ve gone with the “space age” theme for the Right Guard campaign, just like Kinsley did.  Draper’s genius was to ignore the whole aerosol-spray thing altogether.  Speaking of women and male personal-care products, has there ever been an Axe ad that didn’t suck?

Posted by on 08/17 at 10:27 AM
  1. No.  About the Axe ads.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  12:22 PM
  2. Michael.  What in the foggy blue morning are you talking about?

    Posted by Dave Maier  on  08/17  at  12:36 PM
  3. Nashe:  Agreed.  Which brings me back again to Don’s remark to Peggy about how the people who think “sex sells” also think that advertising can be done by monkeys.  No doubt Axe hired Chimpy & Co. to represent them.

    Dave:  It’s a teevee show!  And it’s called Mad Men.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  12:38 PM
  4. Does one forfeit one’s Airspace admission ticket by admitting that she has never watched Mad Men?  Or, if that fails, by admitting that she prefers True Blood for her Sunday evening viewing?
    Just askin’.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  01:18 PM
  5. I dunno. It all seemed a step slow to me. Like a 38 year old former all-star point guard.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  01:57 PM
  6. Tivo, DVDs, iTunes.  There is no reason anymore to pick one show over another because they share a time slot. 

    As for Pete’s reaction: I think it has a lot to do with his long-standing resentment of Cosgrove, who is the urbane, creative, sophisticated Manhattanite that Campbell wants to be.  He’s never gotten over his inability to publish a story like Cosgrove did, and he’s never really gotten over the fact that no one seems him as creative, though he really is.

    Posted by Amanda Marcotte  on  08/17  at  02:02 PM
  7. The think is, Pete is so erratic in his weaselness that it’s impossible to predict how he’ll react. He tries to blackmail Don, but never even suggests revealing what he knows about Peggy. He might turn around and try to do something underhanded to Cosgrove at any moment. Or not, of course.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  02:47 PM
  8. Thanks Dave, so I’m not the only one who was confused. I was momentarily baffled what Blair’s former spin doctor (Campbell) had gotten up to now…

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  02:56 PM
  9. 6.  DVD, Tivo, etc. 

    Amanda:
    Your point holds unless one is too poor or too cheap or too damned old to invest in DVDs, dual satellite inlets or an IPod.

    And my word is “mean.” Eerie.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  03:17 PM
  10. It makes perfect sense to me that Pete’s first reaction is petulant whininess. To be followed by backstabbing weasleness. We just haven’t seen the weasleness yet.

    How great was Pete’s victory dance when he thought the promotion was all his?

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  03:20 PM
  11. I’m more than a step slow in catching Mad Men, as last night’s show was the first I’ve seen. I appreciate the back story on the weaselly whiner, but I’m kind of curious about the womanizing father. Is he guilt ridden or sociopathic?

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  03:36 PM
  12. As has been said, I’m certain Campbell still has some bite to his petulant bark but I think he’s in for a lot of trouble this season. He just seems so totally unable to adapt to new circumstances in a way that, outwardly at the very least, Draper can (Inwardly? Well, who hasn’t been haunted by those late night visions of the darkest parts of their shameful origins while boiling milk?) It somehow seems fitting that Cooper puts Campbell in charge of the ad-campaign for the destruction of Penn Station at the end of this episode- there just doesn’t seem to be anyway to win that fight.

    Yes, you just had to love the ridiculousness of Campbell’s victory dance. And the hilariousness of Sterling entrance: “Oh… it’s *that* meeting.”

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  03:43 PM
  13. Unlike some people (cough, cough), I was an early adopter of Mad Men - love the show, but feel pretty blogged-out (over-blogged) by it at this point. So I’m kind of bummed to see it here, too, but understand that fans of the show, especially those who happen to be writers, just can’t help themselves. *sigh*

    But for all you other “late adopters” who can’t get enough Mad Men blog time and are still relishing reading and discussing every detail (in an intelligent way), I recommend, (in addition to this by Michael, of course), the entire Mad Men opus from What’s Alan Watching? (which you can break down by season), and of course the Official Unofficial Mad Men blog, Basket of Kisses”. Anyway, having been reading those for the past 2 years is why I can live without more Mad Men here. But oh well.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  03:48 PM
  14. Thanks for the links, Oaktown Girl. They helped fill in some deep gaps in my Mad Men background knowledge.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  04:54 PM
  15. Amanda:  I think it has a lot to do with his long-standing resentment of Cosgrove, who is the urbane, creative, sophisticated Manhattanite that Campbell wants to be.  He’s never gotten over his inability to publish a story like Cosgrove did, and he’s never really gotten over the fact that no one seems him as creative, though he really is.

    Yep and yep.  And Cosgrove can afford to be gracious, precisely because he’s approaching the competition from a position of relative strength and security.  The fact that he takes the dual promotion in stride, tho, makes me like him a bit more.

    m.ho:  It makes perfect sense to me that Pete’s first reaction is petulant whininess. To be followed by backstabbing weasleness. We just haven’t seen the weasleness yet.

    Yeah, you’re probably right.

    V. Ed.:  I appreciate the back story on the weaselly whiner, but I’m kind of curious about the womanizing father. Is he guilt ridden or sociopathic?

    That, my friend, is a very big question.  Interestingly (to me), Draper’s no sexist—he has no problem supporting Peggy’s career as a copywriter—but he basically takes all the early-60s male privilege he’s given, which is a lot.  And as Amanda has pointed out, he’s perfectly capable of treating a lover brutally.  Is he guilt-ridden or a sociopath, though?  This isn’t an either-or kind of blog.  Which brings me to:

    Mr. Seidman:  Well, who hasn’t been haunted by those late night visions of the darkest parts of their shameful origins while boiling milk?

    I know I have.

    O-Girl:  Anyway, having been reading those for the past 2 years is why I can live without more Mad Men here. But oh well.

    But I thought I was supposed to do this!  Somebody asked me to, I’m sure of it.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  06:15 PM
  16. This isn’t an either-or kind of blog.

    I’ve been wondering about this. Does it HAVE to be an either-or kind of blog or not?

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  08/17  at  06:54 PM
  17. Wasn’t it that you were supposed to join Facebook or not?  It was either that, or something else.  Or not.

    Posted by Dave Maier  on  08/17  at  07:27 PM
  18. This isn’t an either-or kind of blog.

    I knew I should have put it on a continuous scale.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  07:52 PM
  19. Or an Ethiopian scale

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  08/17  at  08:30 PM
  20. I for one am grateful that AMC ran the new episode twice, back to back. The first time through I was at least a scene behind for the entire hour. Trying to catch up that first hour left me totally open to any hints or suggestions as to what to what might be next. Without the rerun episode I might own a BMW now.

    Captcha: fiscal. Just kidding about the beamer.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  09:08 PM
  21. Axe ads don’t work for those of us who, you know, “do” personal hygiene.

    But please be kind. Axe ads give hope to guys who look like Jonah Goldberg but don’t possess his keen wit and passion for philosophy.

    Posted by David J Swift  on  08/17  at  11:18 PM
  22. Hey Doc,
    hope the painting went well.

    C

    ps Sorry about that tv problem you have. I hope it’s not like HST’s “gun problem”.

    Posted by Poicephalus  on  08/17  at  11:34 PM
  23. The Venerable Ed - you’re very welcome for the links. For people catching up or even doing re-watches of episodes, you’ll really get a lot out of reading Alan’s post-episode posts. The show is so detailed and nuanced, (amazingly, most of the time without coming off as trying to be that way), it’s always rewarding to read another take to see what you might have missed or a different interpretation of events. And Alan is a pro, in the best sense of the word.

    And by the way, I wasn’t joking when I said Basket of Kisses was the Official Unofficial blog of Mad Men. Many of the main players on the show are fans of that blog, and the women who run it are in SoCal this week doing a set visit.

    But I thought I was supposed to do this!  Somebody asked me to, I’m sure of it.

    Yes - that obsessive Mad Men fan voice in your head asked you to, and would not be denied! But it’s OK - we understand. And as far as listening to voices in the head, I’m rather OK with that one, all things considered.

    Posted by  on  08/18  at  12:35 AM
  24. I continue to wonder which character Campbell’s going to end up literally stabbing in the back.

    Posted by Michael Drake  on  08/18  at  09:44 AM
  25. Didn’t Cosgrove end up running that cogs plant in The Jetsons?

    Posted by  on  08/18  at  10:44 AM
  26. Makes sense to me, Norbiz.  One thing to which both Mad Men and The Jetsons is that early-60s design sense in which the 60s will look just like the 50s, only even more streamlined.  This aesthetic, I think, persists even into the mid-60s (1966, June 18 to be exact), and can be seen in the work of Eero Saarinen.  JFK and Dulles airports are very Mad-Jetsons, and check out the underground pod-entry in the St. Louis Arch.  You’ll think you’re in the “underground” “lair” of an early Bond villain.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/18  at  11:17 AM
  27. Actually the St. Louis airport itself (not Saarinen and from the mid-50s) is a great example of the aesthetic.

    Posted by  on  08/18  at  01:43 PM
  28. Just to add an additional thought on Pete’s reaction to the dual promotion, I read his whininess as his sense of entitlement trumping his more duplicitous impulses, at least in the moment. He thinks he is *owed* that promotion in a way that Ken does not. I think this comes into play in his relationship with Don, who he understands is his superior at work, but not in life. I like Amanda’s comment re: his history with Cosgrove here as well. It’s hard not to suspect that Pete thinks Ken has succeeded, in part, by acting above his station, laying claim to things that don’t really belong to him, or at least to things that more properly belong to Pete. Campbell is like every other patrician (hetero) white male who feels entitled to success, women, the spoils of ‘being on top’, but at the same time sees himself victimized by those he understands to be beneath him.

    Posted by Shaun Huston  on  08/18  at  04:37 PM
  29. Vincent Kartheiser seems to be having a good time making his character as despicable as possible and yet still endearing in odd ways. Perhaps it is because his weaselness stems from childishness? This episode lays out clearly his inability “to adapt to new circumstances” (I totally agree arseidman), more specifically British rule and mores. Campbell’s interaction with Pryce is terribly uncomfortable both because of his insecurity and Pryce’s British stand-offishness.  The interactions between Brits and Americans are particularly funny: my favorite might be Moneypenny’s description of the office as a gynocracy. Gets us a fascinating (insiders’ written) outsider’s view on Mad men and 1960s US culture.

    Posted by  on  08/18  at  05:31 PM
  30. Campbell’s one distinguishing moment as an ad man

    Don’t forget the sneaky ad buy on Nixon’s behalf (which I guess wasn’t strictly speaking success as an ad man so much as a proto-Rove).

    Posted by JRoth  on  08/19  at  08:10 AM
  31. Oh yes, I did forget that!

    And Moneypenny’s description of the office as a “gynocracy” was definitely the line of the night.  Uttered, of course, in reference to the woman who was actually raped in the office.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/19  at  10:53 AM
  32. Michael, I’m the person who asked you to talk about Mad Men, and I’m glad that you did!  It will be interesting to see where the show goes this season.

    Posted by  on  08/19  at  06:47 PM
  33. I come back from tour to MadMensch discourse?  Could these be a foreshadowing of an ABFF on British invasions of the early 60s?  Will there be more film at eleven about what happened to the Chesterfield girl after her affair with the Breck girl??? Where are the Old Gold girl’s gams???

    JWT is now owned by WPP an Irish company with HQ in Dublin and London (British invasion indeed), and was the former employer of some very infamous US felons: H. R. Haldeman, J. D. Ehrlichman and Ron Zeigler.  Haldeman and Ehrlichman were both Christian Scientists and proud of their German heritage and being called Nixon’s Berlin Wall.  One of Ehrlichman’s principle assistants during his Nixon tenure was Henry Paulson (gotta love the GOP incest).  Thus we have Mad Men portraying seriously mad men who did great harm (and continue to do great harm) to this nation and US Constitution.  Only on TV

    Posted by  on  08/19  at  08:08 PM
  34. I worked in corporate offices in San Francisco in the 1970s as the only male typist during that last period of Office “Gynocracy.” The women, though pitifully paid and treated as little more than personal servants, were in fact enormously powerful, and they didn’t flinch at using that power. You had better treat them right or that report which you needed complete for the meeting with The Boss at the end of the week would go far, far to the bottom of a monstrous pile. “I’ll see what I can do. [Superior Executive]’s name has asked for some help. Goodbye.”

    Posted by sfmike  on  08/19  at  09:38 PM
  35. but what about breaking bad?

    Posted by skippy  on  08/19  at  11:36 PM
  36. Nice last line. That’s a little bit mean. Do you really have to be that way? Lol. Nice though.

    Posted by Jill Wilks  on  11/21  at  09:57 AM

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