The new business featured in this week’s episode of AMC’s Mad Men is focused more on personal lives and relationships than revenue-generating clients for Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) SC&P. The opening and closing scenes of “New Business” perfectly capture the extremes of Don’s complicated and hollow personal life. Don is at the Francis house making milkshakes for the kids as Betty and Henry arrive home and Betty announces she’s planning to earn a master’s degree in Psychology at Fairfield University.
As he exits, Don pauses to watch the family enjoying themselves. He has a pained look of longing and sadness as he contemplates what could have been. The episode closes with Don being totally surprised after walking into his stripped-bare, totally empty apartment, courtesy of Megan’s mother. Don’s look of surprise turns to shock as he contemplates the reality of what is.
In between the milkshakes and the movers, Don has some heavy and emotional get-togethers with his latest conquest, Diana. He scoured the City to find her, and Diana is already adding more complexity to Don’s already dark and layered life. Don finally comes to grips with his mistreatment of Megan and decides to be a stand-up guy. Don eases his guilt with a cool million dollar divorce settlement check (about six million in today’s dollars) and hopes he can close the door on this chapter of his life.
Fortunately for Don, the most eventful thing he had to deal with at SC&P was Roger’s announcing an unanticipated golf game with a potential client, Derby Foods. Pete greets Don with a set of golf clubs and Don declines. He also decides not to change out of his Mad Men uniform telling Pete that the client will enjoy seeing him on the first tee in a suit. As crazy as that sounds, I have played golf with a client who had to wear his office garb. I offered to foot the bill for golf gear but he wouldn’t hear of it. We had a good laugh. Hopefully Don’s client has a good sense of humor. Derby Foods was a visible and valued account in the 60s and 70s. Derby Foods, a subsidiary of Swift & Company, marketed a number of popular consumer brands including Peter Pan peanut butter. Originally packaged in a tin can with a turnkey and re-closable lid, packaging was changed to glass jars due to metal shortages during World War II. The brand received strong advertising over the years and Peter Pan advertising employed a number of spokespersons including the popular 1970s comic Alan Sues. Here’s his 1972 commercial.
Harry and Don’s paths cross again with Megan at the intersection. Harry hits a new low when he takes advantage of Megan’s need for a new talent agent. Over lunch, Harry sleazily suggests they meet in his hotel room to discuss the possibilities. Megan is humiliated and let’s Harry know what she thinks of him and his proposal. In an attempt to head off possible issues with Don, Harry at tells him that Megan is unstable and beyond hope. He tells Don, “She quit her soap and left New York. That was a really dumb idea.” It is very likely that Harry’s sleaze ball behavior will come back to haunt him.
A new character, Pima Ryan, enters the dynamic at SC&P, complicating Stan and Peggy’s already-coolingrelationship. Pima Ryan is a celebrated fashion photographer that Peggy wants to hire for the Cinzano account. At the agency Peggy, Ed and Stan discuss Pima’s work and reputation while Stan scoffs at the idea. Peggy let’s Stan know that it’s her decision and hires Pima. On the set of the Cinzano shoot Peggy introduces Stan to Pima and he rudely puts down her work. Peggy apologizes and an unflustered Pima says, “Men like him don’t bother me.” Later, Pima walks in on Stan in the dark room while he’s viewing his photos of his girlfriend Elaine. Pima says, “She’s not worthy of you,” kisses him and they undress. So much for Stan’s objection to Pima. Later, Peggy and Pima discuss photos from the Cinzano shoot. Pima comes on to Peggy, offers to take her photo but Peggy declines. In Peggy’s office, Stan is suddenly singing the praises of Pima’s work and intimates that he slept with her. Peggy suggests Pima likes women and reminds him about his girlfriend. Stan accuses Peggy of being jealous. I’s clear to Peggy, at least, that Pima is working it from all angles to hustle business at SC&P.
Working with celebrated photographers has always been part of the creative dynamic at agencies, especially on fashion, luxury and image driven accounts. Art director’s especially gravitated in this direction as a way to enhance their work, collaborate with the best, and get a taste of the celebrity lifestyle. World-renowned photographers such as Deborah Turbeville, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Hiro and others were paid handsomely for their work on some of the Mad Men era’s most famous campaigns. Cinzano is a premium, imported alcoholic beverage brand noted for its classic advertising posters and distinctive advertising. In the ’70s the brand ran print advertising that could have used Pima’s touch. However, some of Cinzano’s most celebrated advertising ran on television. Perhaps the most well known is a series of humorous commercials starring Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins that ran in the late ’70s. You will enjoy watching these.
The other new business that stirred some interest was Roger’s re-connecting with some old business. After filling up the moving truck with all of Don’s belongings, Megan’s mom, Marie, calls Roger at SC&P begging for cash to pay the mover. Roger comes to the rescue and receives an offer from Marie he can’t refuse. Now, Roger is complicit in Don’s empty apartment dilemma and the break-up of Marie’s marriage. I’m sure Don and Roger will share a drink and joke about it all.