Garath W. Henry

Mad Men: Season 4 Episode 1 “Public Relations”

In Social Style on August 5, 2010 at 5:01 pm

I believe that AMC’s Mad Men is currently the best show on TV.  After watching the season four premiere episode titled “Public Relations” I thought it would be fun to do a post on each episode of this season.  So here goes…

WARNING SPOILERS!!!!  If you have not watched the episode yet PLEASE don’t read further! You have been warned.

I’m going to be commenting on two things that I saw in this episode.  The moral of the episode and fashion.

The Moral of the Episode:

This episode opens up with the Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) sitting in an interview with a reporter from Advertising Age.  Draper is being being aloof, telling the reporter that he’s from the Midwest and was raised to believe that it was not polite (vain) to talk about one’s self.  In short Draper sort of stonewalls the reporter, forcing him to make assumptions, and fill in blanks on his own.  The result is a non-hostile article which can’t be seen as an attack, but is not very flattering either.

Draper’s partners at Sterling, Cooper, Draper, & Pryce are furious.  We see both Roger Sterling (played by John Slattery) and Bert Cooper (played by Robert Morse) pull Draper behind closed doors to tell him that he screwed up.  The Englishmen Layne Pryce (played by Jared Harris), makes it clear that he is also less than pleased in a far more subtle way, via body language and by not saying anything about it.

Draper Does not really see the problem.  It’s his job to manipulate people’s perceptions, and he does that well.  He helps his customers sells their products, he wants the focus on his behavior, not on himself .

The other partners remind Draper that their agency is a product, and Draper is a named partner in that product.  Thus selling himself is in effect selling the agency and its ability.

This reminds me of all the talk I hear about personal branding now-a-days.  How a person is a product, and to be successful a person needs to market themselves as such (1).

Anyway, Draper does not buy it at first.  But as the episode goes on and SCD&P start to lose business he changes his tune.  At the end of the episode Draper gets another interview, this time with the Wall Street Journal, and he goes at selling himself the same way he goes about selling products.

I believe the Moral, or the point, of this Episode is: You are what you do.

Draper is an Ad Man, he dresses things up so that they will be easy to sell to customers.

The interesting realization in this episode is that it shows that Draper is a human being, a person.  But Draper has became a product, a commodity to be bought and sold. Draper is a commodity (something that can be used to) that sells other commodities.

Fashion Lessons:

It really seems to me that the male fashion of the late 1950s and early 1960s is making a come back (perhaps Mad Men is part of the reason for this).   Thus I believe every professional male should be taking notes as he watches Mad Men.  I’m personally a big fan of Roger Sterling’s style (2).

There is lots of great fashion lessons to be noticed in the first episode of this season, but rather than reinvent the wheel I’m just going to point you over to an amazing post about the fashion in this episode over at the Esquire blog on Men’s Fashion which states…

It comes down to style, which in the end is the biggest (if not only) thing you men will want to take away from the boys of Sterling/Cooper/Draper/Pryce…

Here’s the lesson: Rather than buying twenty affordable things this fall, find a few nice things that last. An epic overcoat. A gorgeous gray suit. Wear them often and make them signatures. Start seeing your shopping habit as opportunities to invest in your character’s wardrobe. (We’re pretty sure we’ve seen that jacket on Peter Campbell since about the day he got made Head of Accounts.)

Fit, color, quality — this is not rocket science, gentlemen. Also, us women are extremely tactile. Think about how the fabrics you’re wearing feel on the skin. (We do this for you all the time.) Women are lecherous, too, so buy clothing that accentuates your assets. A few key investments can really transform you from a boy into a man. But most of all, women love a mystery. You look at the guys at the new agency so far this season, and still, they never let their clothes overpower their presence. Because nice clothes serve as a hint of what’s beneath and within. Which, in your case, is hopefully a finer character than Don Draper.

The only thing I want to add to what the post over at Esquire has said (better than I could ever say it) is that I loved Don Draper’s black overcoat.  I can’t find a good picture of it, and due to the dark scenes in the episode it was often difficult to see, but mark my words it is a damn nice coat!

______________________

(1) My own personal thoughts on this change as time goes on… Sometimes I’m repulsed by the idea that of people (human beings) being seen as a product to be “consumed” on a marketplace.  Other times I think it is the natural extension of corporate personhood shifting back on its self and become personal corporatehood.  Always fun to think about.

(2) As noted here.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: