Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

If I had my way, you would never advertise.

Mad Men jumped off the cliff.

In "Lost Horizon," I believe it came to pass that Peggy's Belle Jolie pitch was the most important one made on the show.

"The Milk and Honey Route" reminded viewers that whatever, death imagery — cigarettes killed Don Draper a long time ago.

And beauty was still the easiest thing to sell by the time "Person to Person" depicted the ultimate Mad Men moment when a Hershey bar gave a bottle of Coke a hug.

I keep thinking about lots of things, particularly what it means for Don to share an ad with the audience. Don articulated these concerns about the efficacy of advertising in "The Crash":
I keep thinking about the basic principle of advertising. There's entertainment and you stick the ad in the middle of the entertainment like a little respite. It's a bargain. They're getting the entertainment for free. All they have to do is listen to the message. But what if they don't take the bargain at all? What if they're suddenly bored of the entertainment? What if they don't — what if they turn off the TV?
Was "Person to Person" Mad Men's attempt to do the reverse of what Marie did to Roger? She kicked him out of bed and in front of the TV. "Person to Person" kicks you out of the TV and into bed.

Don warns Stephanie that because she was not raised with Jesus, she does not know what happens when people "really believe" in something. He really believes in advertising because, as Mad Men painstakingly demonstrated over seven seasons, it is the least harmful way he can connect with people and give them something. So his ability to shed friends and family, enter solitude, and find the best way to show his love for them that will not make them cry or leave them emotionally disfigured or exploded — it will just emotionally blackmail them into buying a soft drink.

But does that meta-diminish the connection Don made with Mad Men's audience, by defaulting to the use of an ad to pay them back for following his story? Is that a failure to acknowledge what "a great ad" means within the context of the show? Would this be as much of an issue if it were Peggy whose face filled the screen, knowing as the audience does that it is her one dream to have "a big idea," where for Don that is just what he does?

Mad Men achieved a lot, but did it achieve the ability to show its audience an ad through Don's eyes, divorced from the reality of that ad? That is an especially difficult challenge when the ad in question is a real ad that people have real, separate associations with that is so famous to not even really (arguably) be the subject of nostalgia. I did not exist until sixteen years after that commercial aired. I feel like I was born tired of it.

I think apart from its aptness — it makes sense as an endpoint for Don Draper — it is necessary to question whether or not Mad Men earned it. Was it really so afraid viewers would turn off the TV?

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