Mad Men Mania Poll! - Episode 2.
As an FYI, in an early morning meeting today, the Mad Ave Journal Editors met and decided to grant anonymity to a senior Ad Agency Exec who asked us to publish the following Mad Men review, but only under the condition that this person's identity be kept confidential. We agreed to these terms based on the person's fear of potential personal and professional retribution. The Editors will also keep confidential the specific department with which the reviewer works in at their ad agency as well as if this senior agency exec is employed at a traditional or interactive shop. More later from Kurt and me about our He Says/She Says views of Mad Men! - Wendy
I saw Mad Men last night, July 26th. On one hand I wanted to throw up. On the other hand I wanted to award it a Gold Lion!
First, the content and story line is such that the producers could easily replace the actors with JR from Dallas, Joan Collins from Falcon Crest or the entire cast of Beverly Hills, 90210 without too many TV viewers taking notice. It has as much to do with MadAve as MASH had to do with Korea or as much as Second Life has to do with real life. On another level, the total content package, which includes the commercial break fun facts and "the making of" is absolutely brilliant.
Let's see, first it mocks MadAve agency culture, then merchandises the show with historical one-liners, then uses them as "value add" for the sponsors, then self-analyzes the show with a post play-by-play with the actors and the directors etc... Very clever.
It's sure to go down in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first program ever about our two-way mirror industry to use a two-way mirror on itself as part of the show! It even stars David Ogilvy! No doubt Middle America by now knows more about him than they do about Paula Zahn (as evidenced by her ratings).
Rumor has it that Google may report later today with minute-by-minute research that shows that - at the commercial break after David's bromide appeared - households with volunteer Firemen googled the name "David Ogilvy" in the state of Idaho more than all other states combined.
Other observations. On a technical note, either I'm going deaf or the audio seemed to be intentionally hard to hear. I had to concentrate to hear every word. I wondered if this was by design. It made me wonder if there were any images I missed hidden in the ice cubes.
Pulling further back, I don't think Mad Men is actually about MadAve. It is about a politically incorrect society that's dreadfully and claustrophically in need of women's lib. It does a terrific job focusing on the lack of safety with what were back then modern-day miracles. Before Ralph Nader and definitely before Oprah. No seatbelts, so many booze-aholics and 24/7 heart attacks in a packs.
My favorite scene was with the kids running around wearing plastic dry cleaner bags on their heads playing in the other room. Seeing the little girl with the plastic over her head made me twitch in my seat. The dry-cleaning bag shot won "Best of Show" in my score card.
The honorable mentions are as follows:
1. The Gillette Right Guard Aerosol Can "there goes the ozone layer" frat boy office scene.
2. Mothers gossiping about the new scarlet divorce' in the neighborhood.
3. Dick Nixon
4. Last but not least, the husband calling the shrink. Nice touch.
All that said, AMC completely knocks me out with packaging MadMen tightly with the Godfather for this weekend's “Mad Men Michael (Corleone) Marathon”.
It won't require much effort for either the waiter in Louie's Restaurant in the Bronx or the brand genius's at Gillette to see the profits in getting their products securely placed in the bathroom.
"Two shots under the arms apiece...don't forget".
Yours truly, Anonymous
Here's a most passionate review we received first thing also about Episode 2 from a reader who pointed something out to us that in retrospect should have been obvious:
"Just thought I'd mention the one item that bothers me most from the MadMen Soap. The opening is graphic and beautiful, but the free-fall man floating down from a skyscraper, is an image that is not ready for prime time. The 911 shots that we all saw played over and over, are way too fresh to be turned into TV fiction. Really tasteless and crass. I'm offended by the use and I could care less of how it's an homage to some past graphic designer."
Here are half-dozen reviews from MadAve Journal readers about Mad Men, Episode 1.
1. This is one of the best series on television (broadcast or cable) in a very, very long time. Mid Century 'anything' has become fascinating to a whole lot of Americans. It is what it represents to many of us too young to have lived during that time - America at its peak and power. Kurt Brokaw's review is too harsh - give the show some time. This first season is not taking place mid-decade, as Mr. Brokaw states. It takes place in 1960, and changes are coming. The role of women in the series will evolve as the show reaches seasons 3 and 4 (if it goes on that long). I've read Mary Well's 'Big Life' book - excellent book. I'm sure 'Mad Men' will have someone like Mary in the show later in the series. In the meantime, enjoy this series! We may not get anything like it again.
2. Great production values, highly nostalgic and yes, very realistic. Maybe a GYN smoking during exam was over the top, but everything else totally clicked.
3. Campy and over the top, but it's fun to see people smoking in every conceivable setting.
4. As a creative director of an ad agency, I was excited to see the first episode. But they lost me on the Lucky Strike presentation. To believe that the creative team walked into a presentation totally without preparation was totally unbelievable. Any creative director who did what Don Draper did would be fired immediately. I'd love to have his job!
5. It had great promise and "looked good" and I wanted to like it. Why didn't AMC get some input from some of the actual great creative directors of the time? - I've heard they were funny, smart, hip and cool. The women portrayed in the show were a combo of pathetic doormats/victims/sex objects and the men were total unlikable jack*sses. Who ever speaks to an account the way they spoke to their potential client and whose most brilliant creative idea is a 10% off coupon? Yikes...
6. the reviewer misses the point. this is surely no more an accurate portrayal of advertising in the sixties than the Sopranos is of the Mafia. it's a fictional TV drama, not a documentary. the more disturbing issue is the impression it gives of the ethics in this business--if it was that jaded in the sixties, where is it today? nevertheless, it's just entertaining to see a series about what we do and catch the inside jokes. the show's art direction, wardrobes etc. are well done even if some of the writing and acting aren't there. also, the way they treated the breaks was pretty cool, with facts about advertising interspersed with the spots. neat integration for a show about advertising. i stopped fast-forwarding the TiVo and watched each one.