The Oh, So Swanky Bert Cooper

Bert Cooper, without a doubt, is one of the only male characters on Mad Men that does not let the concept of  ‘being professional’ stop him from expressing his eccentric style.  Bert's colorful clothing and unconventional art shows that his style approach is very progressive in comparison to the other men at Sterling Cooper. From Argyle socks to modern art, Mr. Cooper finds a way to add a contemporary look to the Sterling Cooper work place.

A manner, in which Bert depicts his contemporary style, is with the clothing that he wears around the office.  Mr. Cooper’s use of color and patterns shows that he is not afraid to take a risk. He finds a way to make business attire fun and stylish. Argyle, a popular pattern for Mr. Cooper, is known to add a preppy style to any outfit. Bert wears sweaters and socks that illustrate this argyle pattern constantly around the office. In addition to his choice of patterns, Mr. Cooper tends to be the only person in the office that always wears a bow tie rather than a necktie. Bow ties are notorious for formal events and bringing an outfit together in a classy way. This unique, classy persona is what makes Mr. Cooper, Mr. Cooper.

Throughout the show, another way that Bert expresses his individuality is with his admiration for modern art. Bert appreciates artwork that the other men at the ad agency wouldn’t find intriguing, which shows his individuality in comparison to all the other men. Bert is able to portray his approval for the art by displaying several pieces throughout the offices, including the conference rooms where the men discuss copy. This means that Mr. Cooper is able to influence the other men with his style throughout the office with these unique pieces of art. 

Mr. Cooper is one of the only men on Mad Men that doesn’t let wearing a suit get in the way of showing off his personality.  His unique persona is what adds personality to the Sterling Cooper work place. His artistic decisions influence all characters on the show because Mr. Cooper makes a point to have everyone notice his artwork. Without Bert Cooper, Sterling Cooper employees would not have this artistic atmosphere surrounding them.


The Blame Game: Parenting Edition

After watching a few episodes of Mad Men, it’s clear that Betty Draper isn’t going to win “Mother of the Year” anytime soon. Betty is never seen taking her kids to the park or over to a friend’s house; instead, the only activities she suggests are to “go to bed”, “go watch TV”, “go upstairs”, or even to “go bang your head against the wall”.  The defining of Betty’s parenting is a scene I’m sure none of us will forget: Sally wearing the dry cleaning bag. Clearly not worried that Sally might suffocate, Betty simply says, “If the clothes from that dry cleaning bag are on the floor of my closet, you’re going to be a very sorry young lady.” While the audience is staring at the television screen with its jaw on the floor, Betty continues to smoke a cigarette and gossip with her friend Francine leaving Sally to play with the plastic bag. 

Betty’s parenting techniques have not gone unnoticed. New York magazine took note of Betty’s questionable parenting skills, putting together a compilation of Betty Draper’s best parenting moments. Watch the video below and be thankful for your mother’s superior parenting:

This video forces us to question Betty’s child rearing: why is she so harsh when it comes to parenting? Recently, Dr. Stephanie Newman released a book entitled Mad Men on the Couch: Analyzing the Minds of The Men And Women of The Hit TV Show, which gives the audience insight on why Betty is so cold when it comes to being a mother. From the New York magazine video, it’s clear that Betty’s missing some sort of an emotional component when it comes to parenting; when Sally or Bobby do something wrong Betty doesn’t ask why, but merely seeks an apology. Newman points out that many mothers fail in the empathy department. In Newman’s book, she mentions a study done by psychoanalyst Harry Harlow about rhesus monkeys, which have tendencies similar to humans, to examine the workings of maternal love. Harlow ultimately concluded that nurturing a child is crucial in the first months of the infant’s life; if the child is neglected emotionally, then he will have problems connecting with others. As a result, babies who were neglected by their parents exhibit the same behavior once they become parents. 

When looking back at season one, it seems that Betty had a similar upbringing to her own kids. Betty shares with friends that she used to be overweight as a child and how difficult that is for a child to go through but Betty constantly remarks about how Sally looks fat in pictures. When in bed with Don, Betty shares how her mother’s appearance was very important and Betty adopted similar habits, always trying to fit into the mold of the ideal housewife.

What Newman is telling us is that it’s not Betty’s fault that she isn’t a great mother; it’s her parent’s. So the next time you see Bobby reprimanded for touching the record player or hear an insolent comment about Sally’s weight, think about how Betty was treated as a kid. Newman implies that parenting is a skill that’s partly intuitive but mostly a skill indirectly taught by one’s parents. So this serves as a message to everyone who has ever considered having kids: learn from your parent’s mistakes and adjust. I’m sure you’ll be thankful in the years to come.



Newman, Stephanie. Mad Men on the Couch: Analyzing the Minds of the Men and Women of the Hit TV Show. New York: Thomas Dunne, 2012. Print.


Evolution of Advertising: Gillette

Advertising plays such a large role in present day consumerist America. For example, the National Football League’s Super Bowl, arguably the largest sporting event in 21st century, draws a lot of viewers just for the advertisements. When it comes to advertising, however, the target audience is a key factor that is discussed. In episode 2 “Ladies Room” of AMC’s Mad Men, the boys of Sterling Cooper’s creative department are introduced to a new innovation. This innovation is not only important for the world of advertising but also for daily life in general, and it comes in the form of an aerosol spray can. The product in which that episode’s pitch was centered around was the new Right Guard antiperspirant spray deodorant. Although spray deodorant is very conventional today with the sex-appeal targeting advertisement of AXE, it was difficult for Ken Cosgrove, Paul Kinsey, and Salvatore Romano to find a suitable advertising pitch as Right Guard was the first aerosol spray deodorant. However, by taking a look at Sterling Cooper’s Right Guard campaign, we not only see the evolution of advertisements by Gillette but we also see the progression of advertisement methods in America as a whole. 


(A modern AXE advertisement as depicted above. The target audience for the present day body spray is male with a strong focus on the female sex appeal.)

Gillette started as a company specifically for men’s grooming needs. It later targeted women as well, and towards the latter half of the 20th century it ventured into the market of Toiletries. Gillette’s Right Guard antiperspirant deodorant spray was an innovation for the toiletries sector, and thus innovation was the key concept for Sterling Cooper’s creative department’s pitch in “Ladies Room.” As Paul Kinsey praises the Right Guard spray-can as a “rocket” and a “space age...engineering marvel”, Donald Draper, head of the creative department, comments that Paul needs to look at the target consumer who will physically buy the Right Guard spray-can. During 1960s America men occupied more of the high paying jobs than women did. A majority of the labor force was men, and while the men worked, the women would stay at home and do the household shopping (refer to the chart for statistical information). Thus, Donald Draper regarded how the advertisements for the first Right Guard spray deodorant should target the women buying the product and not the men. This advertisement campaign held true for the time period in real life as well.  
The advertisement above is a magazine spread. During 1960s America, magazine spread advertisements played a major role in gaining public attention for a product. Although they play a role in today’s advertisement market, they are not as large as the television/media market for advertising. Although as seen in the ad above, Right Guard still does target women today, it mainly targets the male market for which the product is optimized for. 

Seen in this advertisement video from present day America, Gillette has changed its Right Guard ad to target the different cultural norms and mentality of the 21st century. With Mad Men as a lens, we are able to see the evolution of advertising from 1960s America to the present day through a company that has successfully thrived through diversifying its advertisement methods based on the changing of time periods. Keep on the cutting edge Gillette!



Mad Women: The Other Side of Madison Avenue in the '60s and Beyond

"As the director of the “I Love New York” campaign and winner of “Advertising Woman of the Year,” it’s fair to say that Jane Maas knows her stuff. Maas was a copywriter and then creative director at Ogilvy, a prestigious advertisement agency on Madison Avenue during the later third of the 20th century and has written Adventures of an Advertising Woman and How to Advertise (ie the advertiser's bible). These two texts are revered worldwide for their insight on the craft that is advertisement, and she, along with Ken Roman are renown for their genius. They were among the best of the best. In her latest publication Mad Women: The Other Side of Madison Avenue in the '60s and Beyond, however, Maas removes her hat as Advertiser Extraordinaire and gives us the inside scoop on the Mad World as a Working Woman. 
Quick fact: According to Jane, high-powered women never took their hats off in the office. Ever. It conveyed status. “It’s one of the rare bits of costuming that Mad Men gets wrong” (Maas 128). Just saying.
In short, all of our guesses about the frequency of sex, drinking, smoking, belittlement, infidelity, and strife in the lives of the Mad Men are true. 
In a chapter entitled “Sex in the Office,” Jane says that most women of the time agree that there was more sex than on the show. More! She also begins with a humorous, little anecdote about a brilliant female advertiser who resided in Connecticut with a three-year-old child. Jane asks her about the sex in her office building, and the woman tells her that she most definitely engaged. Her name? Joan. Coincidence? Probably not. 
As depicted on the show, people were rather nonchalant about sex because the Pill was brand new and freely prescribed. In addition, “sexual harassment” wasn’t an issue, as the climbing-the-corporate-ladder perk of an office rendezvous was all too tempting to copywriters and secretaries, and the idea of Human Resources, a place one would go to report an incident today, hardly existed. 
Maas also goes into much detail about substance abuse. Mad Men does a fairly good job of replicating the prevalence of alcohol, but she cannot remember a time when anyone partook in morning shots. Also, Draper and Sterling keep bottles on their desks, but Maas describes a highly utilized executive dining room that carried “every liquor imaginable” (Maas 111). For free. But even though employees had easy access, she can only recall one person with a severe problem with alcoholism. He happened to be a wonderful and successful creative director. Is this not reminiscent of big shots Don’s and Roger’s excessive drinking habits?
In her “A Day on Madison Avenue, 1967” chapter, Maas recounts her average day. It consisted of many, many cigarettes. Of course the daily grand total fluctuated, but she lit at least three before 8:15. A lesser “advertised” form of smoking was with marijuana, but it was absolutely present in the office and at home among the younger folk. 
Lastly, and by far most interestingly, Jane Maas bares her soul in this book. In truth, I can imagine many a Mad Woman fervently nodding their heads in agreement or even shaking their fists in fury from remembering the lifestyle as they read “Have You Really Come Such a Long Way, Baby,” the final chapter in Maas’ book. She admits that her career came before her husband which came before her daughters. She never really worried about housekeeping or cooking because she had a maid. (One she loved and considers part of the family--a second mother to her children, if you will--but a maid just the same). 
Maas reveals that both the stay-at-home and working mother lived unsatisfied lives. 
Jane calls stay-at-home moms “trapped...because they graduated from Bryn Mawr and Radcliffe and Vassar and Smith, got married and ...vanished. They had no identity apart of being somebody’s wife and somebody’s mother. So as they hung their laundry on the line in their suburban backyards, they gnashed their teeth” (Maas 215). For those of you who loathe Betty and the other housewives, consider this. 
And as a working mother, she talks about the pure anger. “Almost every woman...especially working mothers told me how angry she felt about being torn part, and how much she reproached herself for underperforming in all her roles” (217). She also argues that it’s very, very possible that times haven’t changed, hence the chapter title. She proves this through her chronicle through the ages and the different kinds of mothering method each decade brought. Her analysis is poignant; surprisingly modern with mentions of Tina Fey’s mothering experiences, the helicopter mom, and dependence of an iPad; and finally, rather tragic. She concludes, how “shocking” she finds it that successful career women in their prime are quitting their jobs to stay at home, leaving their lives for rearing children and the money making to their husband; thus, there is no happy medium. Maybe being a family woman and a professional one is mutually exclusive. Her disheartening and baffling (I thought this balance was what being a modern woman was all about!) conclusion is so, so profound. I firmly believe it will resonate with every current or future wife, husband, daughter, son, employee, and employer. (Read: This means everyone). 
Now, a moment of honesty from me: I may have mislead you in the beginning of this post. I told you she took a step back from her advertising ways, but as we see in Don Draper, an advertiser never leaves his or her work in the office. Maas’ struggle is evident and should be shared, her capitalization of our beloved AMC hit series’ success is certainly an example of this constant desire to sell and profit. But nonetheless, Mad Women is special. While this certainly does not apply to any of us Maddicts, this book would appeal to those who have little to no knowledge of the series. Currently it stands among few as a publication devoted to Mad Men, but what really makes Mad Women an essential read is Maas’ thoughtful, humorous, and honest take on the never-ending conflict of being a woman of any time period: balancing a life, a family, and a career--and not necessarily in that order. 
Maas, Jane. Mad Women: The Other Side of Madison Avenue in the 60s and Beyond. New York: Thomas Dunnes Books, 2012. Print. 

(Picture from Macmillan)


The Television Election: Marketing Nixon vs. Marketing Kennedy

Within the episode “Red in the Face” of Mad Men: Season 1, the viewer is introduced to the major struggle of the 1960 election for the best advertising campaign. Not only was this election the usual struggle between parties, but also the struggle of which candidate could perform best in America’s living rooms. No longer were Americans simply listening to debates on the radio or reading about the candidates; they could also watch them on television and see their reactions. The television audience for politics ushered in a new era of political campaigns. And, as history has proven, President Kennedy used it to his advantage in 1960.

In this episode of Mad Men, the gentlemen discuss the Kennedy Campaign and Nixon. They discuss his inexperience, his Catholic faith and the fact that according to Mr. Cooper, “He doesn’t even wear a hat” as issues working against Kennedy. Peter Campbell responds with, “You know who else doesn’t wear a hat? Elvis, that’s what we’re dealing with.” In this short interaction between the old guard of Sterling Cooper and a younger employee, a magnified lens of the national attitude is witnessed. Overall, the nation would soon decide that Kennedy was a better choice both because of his political ideology and aesthetically because of his apparent youth (He was only 4 years younger than Nixon). His ability to capture a television audience that was young and politically informed was a keystone in his campaign. Television advertising and how the candidates appeared in debates had an influence on public opinion in this election for the first time.

These next two video clips display how the campaigns were different in the way that they approached television advertising. Carefully notice the two different styles used to communicate with the American public.

Nixon was more formal and less remarkable in his ads such as this one. There is no “Zinger” or any type of jingle to make this ad memorable. He focuses in on facts and talks directly to the people leaning on a desk. Although the image conveys authority in a sense, it does not appeal to the public as much. The desk and the way that Nixon uses it as a prop seems removed from the American public whereas Kennedy is shown interacting and shaking hands. While Nixon stuck to traditional forms of advertising, Kennedy’s campaign was more creative in using jingles and other attention grabbing techniques. Thus, the first use of television “Star Power” came into play during the election cycle. 

Nixon was more formal and less remarkable in his ads such as this one. There is no “Zinger” or any type of jingle to make this ad memorable. He focuses in on facts and talks directly to the people leaning on a desk. Although the image conveys authority in a sense, it does not appeal to the public as much. The desk and the way that Nixon uses it as a prop seems removed from the American public whereas Kennedy is shown interacting and shaking hands. While Nixon stuck to traditional forms of advertising, Kennedy’s campaign was more creative in using jingles and other attention grabbing techniques. Thus, the first use of television “Star Power” came into play during the election cycle. 

Both campaigns also contended with the first series of television debates in presidential campaign history. Upon closer inspection of the photo above, it can be observed that Kennedy is more confident on stage and does not look nearly as pasty. Nixon does not look confident and seems to be out of sorts. Overall, the debates soon sank Nixon who did not wear make up and was usually sweating bullets. His posture, debate style, and confidence in front of the cameras were not as fully developed as Kennedy. The difference between the two men in debates was another key advertising move that was a win for Kennedy. Finally, in “Nixon vs. Kennedy”, the Election Day results flow in with a victory for Kennedy. This end game result is a great tie in with Mad Men and the development of television campaign advertising during the time frame. Overall, the election of Nixon vs. Kennedy was the first foray of political campaigns into television as the main medium of advertising. This particular election cycle in history had a profound effect on advertising campaigns and dovetails perfectly with Mad Men: Season 1.

Links referenced:

Druckman, James M. "The Power of Television Images: The First Kennedy-Nixon Debate Revisited." The Journal of Politics 655.2 (2003): 559-571. Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3449821

Self, John W. "The First Debate over Debates: How Kennedy and Nixon Negotiated the 1960 Presidential Debates." Presidential Studies Quarterly 35.2 (2005): 361-375. Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/275526874



It's Mrs. Kennedy for Me!


Though the role of the Commander and Chief has evolved over the course of American history, the role of his wife has remained constant.  To the American people, she has always been portrayed as a beacon of grace and patriotism.  Jacqueline Kennedy may be the most well-known First Lady in American history partially because of her groundbreaking major media broadcast tour of the newly renovated White House.  The season two episode of Mad Men “For Those Who Think Young”, make mention to the popularity of this tour and examines some of the culture significance when all of the women particularly and even some their husbands are consumed with the program.

By 1962, Americans had only dreamed to see such an in-depth look at the “Maison Blanche”, but Jackie set a new standard for future First Ladies and certainly represented the changing attitude about women of the time.  She portrayed the typical accommodating housewife, inviting hundreds of millions of people into her home.  In addition she also played a more authoritative role as the primary narrator in the broadcast.  In fact, this was the first prime time documentary to have a woman as the primary narrator and Kennedy subsequently won and honorary Emmy for her performance.  Because this program was geared specifically toward a female audience, Mrs. Kennedy’s performance as a strong woman sets an example for her fellow American women.  Betty Draper and Trudy Campbell were two of the women on the show, both know for trying to be the ideal wife.  This broadcast surely could have affected them and millions of women like them.

Contrary to the rest of her performance, at the end of the documentary, President Kennedy pops in for a quick interview with correspondent Charles Collingwood and Mrs. Kennedy is displaced to her stereotypical subordinate role.  Though Jackie Kennedy has raised the expectations for First Ladies of the future, hopefully these fortunate women can also learn from her mistakes and become not only the wives of leaders, but leaders themselves.



Adultery Then and Now

Adultery is among the many sinful themes depicted on Mad Men. The plot lines follow the love lives of the main married men of the series- Don Draper, Pete Campbell and Roger Sterling- and their philandering ways. Throughout the first season, Don is constantly escaping work and Betty to be with beatnik Midge Daniels, and eventually pursues Rachel Menken, which leads to a short affair. Pete has several liaisons with Peggy Olsen, the first of which leads to a child. Finally, Roger has an ongoing affair with Joan Holloway, as well as with the occasional identical twin.

The constant depiction of adultery on the show is another reminder of how different the 1960s were than times today. Mad Men depicts adultery as something that was silently accepted by everyone. In other words, it was understood that men like Don and Roger had mistresses, even if they were not openly discussed. Usually, everyone except the wives understood that their husbands were allowed mistresses. Cheating was morally considered wrong in the sixties, which is why secrecy was often associated with affairs, especially in Don’s case. And because cheating was wrong, it was normal for wives to get upset should they ever find out.

Though today adultery is still considered morally wrong, it has changed in several ways. It is no longer a silent-but-accepted norm, as present-day Don Drapers are not expected to have mistresses but are instead expected to be faithfully married. If these men do have affairs, they do not discuss them and attempt to keep them secretive instead. This is because today adultery is more frowned upon than it was in the 1960s. As the decades have progressed, it has become even more socially unacceptable to have an affair. Perhaps less frequent affairs can be attributed to how hard it has become to get away with one. Nowadays, it is much more difficult to cover up an affair than it was in the sixties. One main reason is the advance in technology. With the vast means of communication we now have, affairs can be discovered through cellular devices, laptops and other forms of technology, something that Don didn’t have to worry about in the 1960s. An example of how adultery has changed can be shown through comparing President Kennedy to President Obama. President Kennedy was able to cover up affairs as POTUS, some not even surfacing until after his death. If President Obama were to ever attempt adultery, it would have the potential to make national news in moments.


A Little Drinking Never Hurt Anyone...

It’s no surprise that drinking is a prominent in the show Mad Men. From Old Fashioned’s to Bloody Mary’s, all types of drinks are seen throughout series. What’s even more surprising is that fact that most men in the series seem to be constantly drinking no matter what time it is. Roger asks Don if it’s too early to drink, but shrugs and pours himself a drink anyway. This nonchalant attitude causes any viewer to ask themselves, “Did people really drink like this in the 1960’s?”

Back in the 60’s, it was very common for executives to drink on the job. Natasha Vargas-Cooper, author of “Mad Men Unbuttoned”, says that the office was where people came to make money. Values were left at home, and therefore when you see someone drinking during the day or being crude to women in the office, it’s not an exaggeration. A popular daily activity in the 60’s were the three-martini lunch. Tom Borne, Asher Agency’s account supervisor, recollects that some instances one martini would turn into multiple. The end of the three-martini lunch started with Jimmy Carter. During his ’76 presidential campaign, he attacked businessmen for these three-martini dinners for classifying them as “business expenses.” In addition, many businesses and even government agencies put programs in effect which prevented employees from being intoxicated at work. However, can having a drink or two at work actually boost productivity in the office? A recent study by the University of Illinois found that subjects who were mildly drunk performed better in problem-solving situations. 

Although the three-martini lunches may be dead, nothing can stop high power businessmen from enjoying a drink or two during the day. The current day wall street businessmen are infamous for their crazy and extravagant lifestyles. The Mad Men series romanticized the idea of getting a client drinks at lunch and persuading them to sign a contract. However, drinks in the workplace are usually consumed when celebration is in effect. Whatever the reason for drinking today, it doesn’t hurt to enjoy a couple of old fashions after a long workday. 

(A little bonus for you guys. Every super cut of every drink in the Mad Men series)

You Drink, You Drive, You Draper

In the Marriage of Figaro (episode 3), Mad Men Season 1, The Draper family throws a birthday party for Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka). Betty Draper (January Jones) opens the birthday party scene by serving the adults Mint Juleps, a seasonal drink she seems obligated to serve. As the episode progresses Sally approaches Don, (Jon Hamm) and asks if she can serve him a drink. Not only does this scene act to highlight the service oriented mentality expected of women during the period, but also to emphasize the prevalent nature of alcohol.

The presence of alcohol was a common occurrence for many Americans for most of the 20th century. What we may perceive today a Dons excessive or unsafe drinking habits were likely on par with the times. Towards the end of the episode a clearly intoxicated Don is asked by Betty to drive to pick up the birthday cake. Drinking and driving or DUI/DWI were not sufficiently countered in New York, the setting of Mad Men, until 1981 with the passage of the STOP-DWI law by the State Legislature(NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision). In fact, there was not a large push to reveal the effects drinking could possibly have on ones driving until the 1980’s with the creation of groups like MADD and the rise of the national drinking age to 21 (Drinking and Driving). 

There has come to be a war waged against alcohol and the negative social, biological and mental side effects it has been found to cause. In 2010 there were close to 200,000 DUI related arrests in California alone(California Department of Alcohol and Drug Prevention). Many states are focusing efforts on street patrols, but also on preventative and educational measures.  Increased signage, special programs in schools and even television and radio ad campaigns, have all been recruited to combat the dangers of alcohol. Just what would the Men on Madison Ave. do if they knew their industry would forever change theirs as well as many other American’s lifestyle? I believe they would propose a toast, to drinking.

Links referenced:

"A Short History of Drunk Driving." Drinking And Driving .Org. Drinking and Driving, n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2012. .

"FACT SHEET Driving-Under-The-Influence (DUI) Statistics 2010." N.p., Aug. 2012. Web. 15 Oct. 2012. .

Maccarone, Robert M. "DWI History in New York State." NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. N.p., 17 June 2011. Web. 13 Oct. 2012. .