Roger Sterling and Don Draper Are Big Time Squares, Man

Roger Sterling and Don Draper—two suave New Yorker ad men—got their balls handed to them in a Los Angeles nut sack last night on Mad Men season six, episode 10.

Interestingly, this episode, “A Tale of Two Cities,” was directed by John Slattery, the actor who portrays silver-haired fox Roger Sterling.

On the way to L.A. to meet with Carnation, Sunkist, and “the avocado people,” Roger scolds Don for working too hard. He reminds him that they’re from the Center of the Universe, and that’s all it takes to succeed in this world. Don isn’t so sure. He likes to be prepared.

In the meeting with Carnation, the New Yorkers in the room get roughed up pretty good. First, they’re forced to endure the client’s right wing political diatribe. Then they’re grilled on their commitment, their “New York attitude” and what new ideas they might have to move the Carnation brand forward. Their lack of any good answers helps them come across as smug and clueless.

Later when Harry takes the partners to a party at a house in The Hills, Roger and Don go from bad to worse. Don can’t handle his hash, and Roger refuses to share a decent work with a former colleague. Both Roger and Don pay the price for it.

What does it all mean? It means that the country was splitting into pieces in 1968. Young and old. East coast and West coast. Black and white. Soldier and draft-dodger. Straight and hippie. Man and woman.

We are starting to see that Roger and Don are no longer the future of Sterling Cooper & Partners. They’re the future Burt Coopers of the place. But Ginsberg, Joan, Pete and Peggy are the future of the business. Normally, I wouldn’t give Pete the nod, but I have a feeling the final scene in this episode, where he takes a hit of Stan’s joint and has an “a-ha!” moment, is a prelude to a new and improved Pete.

Previously on AdPulp: Peggy Olson Stabs Her Self-Righteous Lover



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.