yes, it's kennedy, kennedy, kennedy, kennedy, kennedy, kennedy, kennedy for me!

Many say the reason Kennedy won the 1960 election was the televised candidates debate. Television played a major role in the election of America’s youngest and first Catholic president. Two different advertising companies were responsible for bringing Kennedy’s two hundred advertisements to America’s living rooms.

On the first season of Mad Men, Episode Ten, the office watches this iconic Kennedy ad:

This catchy jingle is a hard one to get out of your head. It might have even swayed you to rethink your vote. This ad is simple and to the point. It subtly reminds you of important issues without flooding you with information that is anti their opponent. This Nixon ad was also featured on the show.

The Kennedy jingle was revolutionary because it hadn’t been thought of before. It was the perfect compliment to the “out with the old in with the new” ideas that defined Kennedy’s campaign. Nixon’s ad is just so typical; it is what is expected of a classic grass roots candidate. The youthful approach to Kennedy’s campaign is ultimately why Nixon looses to the “new model” that Kennedy represents.

This is the election that truly showed the power of TV, but it was not the first election to use it as an advertising vehicle. Take this ad for president Eisenhower’s 1952 campaign:

Does it look similar? I am sure it does. Kennedy uses the same technique. Both candidates, Eisenhower a republican, and Kennedy a democrat won their elections. Crediting these catchy advertisements with the win would be wrong. However, the recycled tactic allowed for a new product to be marketed. Like, Don Draper (Jon Hamm), says, “Happy days are here again.” The advertisements play on nostalgia. What was old is new. It gives hope to the U.S. citizens when the country’s future looms in uncertainty. It brings safety by recognizing the familiar. This seems to be a repeating theme on the show especially when Don sells the Kodak Carousel in Episode Thirteen of the first season.

Using the old to sell the new is something that is relevant more than ever today. Just look at how many old trends are reinvented in pop cultures many outlets. With the State of the economy and the laundry list of other things that this current administration and the country has inherited it’s no wonder that we are looking to the past to move forward. On more than one occasion Obama has been compared to many leaders Kennedy included. So, it shouldn’t come as a shock that when this commercial for his presidential campaign was created it stirred a positive response:

It plays on all the Kennedy gimmicks a catchy tune, an inspirational speech, an unforgettable slogan, and celebrity endorsement. It’s hard to deny its effectiveness. It reminds the viewer the power of good things. Obama also won his campaign. This is proof that digging through the past to find the latest greatest is more than effective. It wins presidential campaigns regardless of party affiliation and so much more.

What a shame Nixon lost, if only the guys at Sterling Cooper thought of this sooner!


Where Do Betty and Don Live?

There are actually multiple answers to this question.

On the show, they live in a town called Ossining in Westchester County, New York. It is located about 30 miles away from Madison Avenue in New York City and would take no more than an hour to commute to. The choice of Ossining has raised eyebrows among Mad Men fans and history buffs alike because an ad man of Don's stature and a woman as society conscious as Betty would have most likely lived in Connecticut or the East Side, Chappaqua, Darien, Rye. This has led many to speculate that creator Matthew Weiner chose Ossining because it was the hometown of writer John Cheever who wrote many short stories dealing with suburban angst.

Of course the show does not actually film in Ossining. The home that we have come to call "the Draper Household" is actually located 632 Arden Road in Pasadena, California. Check out a street view on Google maps.

More surprising is the fact that the Drapers actually moved and forgot to tell us! In the Pilot episode, this is the house of Don and Betty:

When it is time for Sally's birthday in Episode 3, this is their home:

Whether their house is in Pasadena or Ossining, I'm sure we would all like to be invited over for dinner. But sorry Don and Betty, we can't bring the scotch.

Links referenced: AMCTV and Iamnotastalker.com.


Technical Problems

The Pilot episode, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," makes a few minor blunders in terms of technological history. The first time we meet Peggy, Joan introduces her to a typewriter and assures here it’s "simple enough for a woman to use." The typewriter in question is the IBM Selectric II, which was not released until 1971. Indeed the original IBM Seleca wasn’t released until 1961. As this episode was based in 1960, it was an artistic liberty taken by Mad Men, which allowed for technology to magically appear before it was developed.

The audience is once again confronted by the technological limitations of the time when Don claims that there is no "magic machine" that can make identical copies of documents. This is particularly interesting since the first Xerox machine was introduced in 1949. However, these are trivial details that pale in comparison to the overall spectacle that is Mad Men. Let’s draw the line at flying saucers.

Links referenced: TV.com and Wikipedia.



We first meet Don in a restaurant, questioning a man about his brand of cigarettes. We are introduced to his intriguing personality and wit when he tries to convince the man to switch to Lucky Strikes. This brand of cigarettes was prominent in this time period and was first introduced in the early 1900s. Consistent with Mad Men, the slogan "It's Toasted" was a real campaign run to advertise how their cigarettes were made better than others. Like this strategy, Lucky Strike used various methods in an attempt to dominate the tobacco industry such as changing its design from green to white, using both images and radio to reach the public, and broadcasting testimonials. Mad Men gives us a look into the brains and ideas behind some of these campaigns and the process that goes into selling what is considered a "dangerous" product. Today unfiltered Lucky Strike cigarettes are still sold in the United States.

The ad image above appears at the following link: Adclassix.com. For another Lucky Strike advertisement, see this link at Cigarettespedia.


Don't Think Twice About Season One Finale

The first season finale of Mad Men left viewers with a sad and ambiguous ending of Don sitting by himself accompanied by Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” This song is reflective of many of the character’s current moods as season one came to a close. Bob Dylan once introduced this song as, “a statement that maybe you can say to make yourself feel better… as if you were talking to yourself.” It shows that despite conflict, people can carry on scarred, but strong. Don and Betty have hit a major rough patch in their marriage as Don’s infidelity weakens their bond and happiness. Don has finally come to realize his lack of commitment to his family (including Betty, his kids, and his brother Adam), and the viewer senses feelings of guilt and sorrow for his shortcomings. The song embodies this harsh conflict and inserts a glimmer of hope through forgiveness and simply by moving on and dealing with problems without resentment. Dylan wanted this song to make people feel better as one can always deal with their issues and work to make things better. Dylan sings, “An' it ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe. It’ll never do some how.” Producers of the show wanted these lyrics to sink in as viewers felt the weight and unhappiness of Don’s problems while still holding hope for resolution. The song is saying that it’s time to move on, resolve issues, and don’t think twice, it’s alright.

Link referenced: Last.fm.


Cocktails at the Plaza

In Season 1, Episode 7 “Red in the Face," we see Don and Roger enjoying an evening drink at a crowded bar. This bar is actually the Oak Room Bar, in the famous Plaza Hotel in New York, located on 5th avenue and Central Park South. The bar is one of the most well known martini bars in New York, originally opened in 1907. The bar was designed by Henry Hardenbergh and originally only allowed men to frequent it. It was closed during the Prohibition era and then re-opened in 1934. The Oak Room Bar is still opened today, and considered to be one of the best hotel bars in the New York. It’s no surprise Don and Roger would go there for their after work cocktail, only the best and most elite hang-outs are sufficient for these Mad Men.

Links referenced: "Oak Bar Photo Gallery" and The Oak Room.