The Art of Advertising

Throughout the 1950s suburbia was idealized by many Americans. The rising suburban communities were represented in the media as fulfilling the “American Dream.” It represented everything a young couple of postwar America wanted. In the 1950’s the baby boom was beginning to erupt. Suburban towns were manufactured by mass producing homes at a low cost, allowing families in the postwar economic boom to purchase homes. This was the ideal situation for new families, having the safety of a quite neighborhood and out of the city, while still remaining close enough to reap the benefits of having a husband who worked in the city. Children were able to be safe in a neighborhood and able to play with the other young children, while the parents were able to socialize in the open environment that neighborhoods provided.  

The situation of Don Draper is the ideal fit for this mold of suburbia. Draper has two young children, a wife, and a successful job in the city. He is the type of person that advertisements would use for these communities - an upperclass, young, white family with several children. Although the suburban neighborhood was essentially created for Draper, he never seemed to fit in. 

As seen throughout the series, Don often avoids home. He spends many evenings in the city with clients or other women, ignoring the life he is leaving behind in the suburbs. When Don is home, he never seems to be comfortable and is looking for an escape. Perhaps the city provides the hustle and bustle that allows Don to forget the past and his identity. Is it the close community feeling of a neighborhood frightening to Don where he is able to slow down and actually think?  

Has Don fallen for his own advertising trick and moved his family to the suburbs seeking an idealized life - “Advertising is based on one thing, happiness”?

Links referenced: Kenney, Kim. "Suburbanization in the 1950s: Glamorizing Suburbia in Popular Culture."

Episode Quoted: “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” Mad Men. By Matthew Weiner. Dir. Alan Taylor. AMC. 19 Jul. 2007. Television   

1 comment:

  1. In doing research for my paper I have learned that often the ideal demographic that advertisers looked at was a middle-class white mother and their families in general. I think that there was definitely a societal push towards this suburban lifestyle and Don has a motivation to at least seem like he has achieved this "American dream", even if only because it is what was perceived as the next logical step after he got a good job and got married.