Mad Men: Quick Thoughts

George Parker has a spot-on review of last night’s pilot episode of “Mad Men,” along with some perspective of what it was like back in those days.
Lewis Lazare gives it a C+, calling it “a grim story about the dark underbelly of humanity that has precious little to do with the ad world.”
Like George, I thought it was good, but not great…of course, a pilot episode just sets the stage and introduces characters. I can see it easily getting better.
I was kinda struck by how they pulled out some factoids during commercial breaks to fit some advertisers–i.e., telling me that Carnival was the first cruise line to advertise, right before an actual Carnival commercial. [Ed. note: Another instance of this was right before a Geico ad]
Your thoughts? Has there really ever been a TV show or movie that truly got the ad industry right?

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. I completely agree and can’t wait to see how they develop the show.
    I loved the factoids. It was a great way to keep the viewer engaged and force them to watch the commercials.

  2. I’ll be interested to read the criticism of others.
    Here are some of my initial takeaways…
    1) Seeing sexism and racism so rawly exposed is unsettling (my hope is that this behavior is not being romanticized).
    2) The creative director writer guy–Jon Hamm playing Don Draper–just had to have a temper tantrum during a client meeting, because, you know, he’s creative.
    3) Cliches are littered throughout, including the one about an internal rival combing through your waste basket for ideas he can call his own.
    4) A page has been ripped from Thank You For Smoking (Don Draper is the new Nick Naylor).
    5) The ending sucked. Peggy invites a drunken and verbally abusive colleague in to her apt. for sex… talk about naked ambition. Even worse, the closing scene in lilly white CT where we see that hard-driving Don Draper does it all for the good of his virtuous wife and children.

  3. Danny
    Yeah, as I said… It ain’t no “Sopranos.” And it had a massive ammount of hype and PR for weeks. Having slept on it, couple of things struck me this morning. The “New Girl” sure packed a lot into her first day, including a visit to the “Smoking Gynecologist.” Ending up by getting laid with the Office Jerk… Who had to be so drunk, I don’t think he would have made much of an impression anyway. And you just knew that “Don Boy” would end up in Connecticut for his teice weekly conjugal visit. And like I said in my review, we drank like fishes, but not in the office.

  4. Danny asks-
    “Has there really ever been a TV show or movie that truly got the ad industry right?”
    I did not watch Mad Men, but as far as accurate advertising movies go “Viktor Vogel in Advertising Rules!” is the closest i’ve seen

  5. i’ve already mentioned on other sites that i did like the show. but as far as the question about whether any show or movie has truly gotten the ad industry right all i can say is ‘what is the ad industry?’ i mean, every place i’ve worked at has felt different, a lot of it depends on what clients you work on. the only constant seems to be a high percentage of wannabe posers at the industry parties.

  6. Danny: I blogged about it on The Toad Stool- I thought the show made a lot of people in advertising uncomfortable because unlike the Sopranos, it functioned as a mirror rather than a window.
    FWIW, Don gets off the train in Ossining, which is in Westchester, not CT. It’s also the home of Sing-Sing Prison, which, given how heavy handed the show is, is clearly a none-too-subtle metaphor for his family.
    PS: While I got slammed on here for suggesting that there were WASP only agencies that didn’t employ Jews or Italians, the show had an entire subplot on that very theme. Not that I’m the type to say “I told you so” or anything, but…

  7. @ toad: I don’t think you were slammed, I think some folks just got their timelines a bit confused. You were right as far as I know–Randall Rothenberg’s “Where The Suckers Moon” laid out the whole ethnic story pretty well. And Jerry Della Famina’s book might have said something about it, too.