So, I thought the Mad Men episode three weeks ago was the best ever, but I think Sunday's episode came pretty close to earning that distinction. So many things to talk about and so little time and space. As far as relevance to PRWeek readers,this episode once again was a great commentary on the length that agencies will go to please their clients. But first, how phenomenal was Jon Hamm in this episode? I swear, if the man does not win an Emmy next year I may have to boycott (the Emmys, not Mad Men!). His evolution this season, and throughout the entire series, has been nothing short of brilliant. In this episode he finally is forced to confront his past in a real way, even more so than when Betty found out about Dick Whitman and kicked him out. Tonight was the first time he confided in another woman, and not forced to do so, about his big secret. Does that mean that Don and Faye are the real deal or does anyone think that we haven't seen the last of Don and Betty as a couple? .
The cause of Don's anxiety attack was the government clearance that was required to do work for North American Aviation, a top-secret defense company that is basically looking to have the agency create a full-fledged reputation campaign for it. Did anyone else laugh out loud when the camera panned to the classified documents Don was supposed to use for inspiration, with only about 10 words not blacked out as “classified” information? What hoops have you all had to go through for clients, especially those where confidentiality is such an important thing?
It's interesting that the two clients that dominated this episode were Lucky Strike and North American Aviation. One is arguably the agency's oldest account, one that we were introduced to in the first episode, when Don came up with the brilliant “It's Toasted” tagline for the cigarettes because they were no longer able to talk about the supposed health benefits. North American Aviation was a client that Pete Campbell brought in during he and Don't ill-fated trip to California and it was a real risk for the agency as it was in a burgeoning area of defense technology.
So when Lee Garner, Jr —the heir apparent to the Lucky Strike throne and the client that has dominated Roger's time and the agency's billings for a quarter century—broke it to him that the board was pushing to go consolidate all the ad work, all the brands, into one agency, and BBDO no less, his reaction was pure disbelief. “Are you trying to kill me? We will shake heaven and earth for you—you know that.” Roger begged him to get Don Draper in a room with the board and work his magic, but Lee held his ground. “It's over,” he said flatly.
“This is not happening,“ Roger said as he held his head in his hands . “You don't end business with people after 25 or 30 years. We're family! I invited you to my daughter's wedding. I don't know why you didn't get the invitation. You should fire your secretary; not fire your agency. ”
You could almost see Roger's mind going, thinking of all he had done to keep this client: “Do you know how many times I lied for you?!” not to mention throwing a Christmas party specifically for the benefit of that client and to prove the agency's health
In a way, Sterling Cooper has become a victim of its own success. Many people said that midsized agencies were the real victims of the past recession—which by the way, we now know ended in July 2009, though that may be news to those of us still working with 2009 style budgets and stretched staff, but I digress… The thinking was that big global agencies offered the scale and global reach while smaller agencies offered the senior-level attention that big agencies cannot afford to offer. Stuck in the middle is not a great place to be.
As Lee told Roger, “You're not Sterling Cooper anymore.” And yes, that's true. But what kind of agency is Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce want to be? The dichotomy is evident in how it dealt with those two main clients. North American Aviation, which represents the agency's future was resigned to avoid an embarrassing situation for Don, while Roger begged Lee to give him 30 days to get things in order.
What did you all think of this episode? Does the possibility of Lucky Strike leaving the agency mean that there could be room for art director Sal to come back? I hope so! Was anyone else hoping they would've showed footage of The Beatles Concert and then flash to Don with earplugs in?