Mad Men Series 6 – and the trouble with Harry’s dress sense

March 8, 2013

Mad MenOK readers, who’s the dude in the middle with the tasteful mustard jacket, silk cravat and sideburns? None other than our old pal Harry Crane, head of media at Sterling Cooper Draper (we imagine the “Pryce” has been dropped after recent events, but you never know: Stanley Pollitt, of BMP, continued to perform miracles after he had been dead for years).

Anyway, back to Crane and the latest series of Mad Men, which returns to US screens (but not alas our own, unless we’re Sky subscribers) on April 7th. The trouble with Harry is he’s such a fashion victim – a weak personality seeking momentary identification with every passing sartorial trend. In the past, that’s mostly meant a new pair of outrageously over-emphatic adman’s glasses. But here, in series 6, the preppy-groovy look has completely taken over.

Not much sign of that in Roger, other than slightly lengthened sideburns. And none at all in Don, who retains a circa-1959 cool dress sense. Let’s hope he’s finally disposed of the fedora. We thought that went out with President Kennedy. But Don was still wearing his in 1966. It’s one of those few, painful, anachronisms that crop up in the meticulously researched Lionsgate series. Another solecism was the otherwise elegantly restrained Pryce’s table manners when he was (as he thought) wining and dining his future Jaguar client. Still more so Mrs Pryce’s faux pas when she uttered, in a perfect cut-glass accent, the word “gotten”. No one in England has used that word since about 1800; it’s “got”.

Still, let’s not quibble over what remains an excellent series. We’ll all be glued to the screen. Once, at least, the DVD is released.

Meantime, here are a couple more shots to emerge from the studioDraper


Newsweek’s Tina Brown flags Mad Men revival with retro ads fest

January 13, 2012

Creatives, sharpen your pencils. Tina Brown, editor of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, has a new challenge for you.

Well, not “new” perhaps; more “retro”. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hone those copy skills which you might, if you were extremely lucky, have learned at the knee of David Abbott or, very distantly indeed, Bill Bernbach (ob.1982).

The brief? To turn a whole edition of Newsweek into a celebration of Mad Men’s fifth season premiere, on March 25th, with 60’s-themed ads.

It’s difficult to know who’s been commercially cuter here, with this “life imitating art” fest: Brown, who needs to boost flagging Newsweek ad revenue; or Matthew Weiner, creator and executive producer of the critically acclaimed but hardly money-spinning Lionsgate TV series, who needs to give the long-delayed fifth series the best uplift possible.

It’s nearly a year and a half now since Don Draper and his chums last graced our screens, mainly thanks to a protracted dispute between Weiner and Mad Men’s TV sponsor, AMC Network. Last March, Weiner eventually emerged with a new $30m contract which, reportedly, will guarantee us another 3 series.

For Brown, the hope is that the March 19th Mad Men edition will provide the crowning glory to a low-profile turnaround for Newsweek. Ad pages dropped 17% in 2011, but the magazine has experienced a steady quarterly recovery since her well-received redesign, launched on March 14th last year.

Of course, that’s not what she’s saying in public:

Newsweek was very much on the cultural forefront at the time of the show. It covered the events that are so much of the background for the show’s drama — the burgeoning civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement, the Vietnam War. That was Newsweek’s cutting-edge beat and its flourishing journalistic subject. So it seemed like a wonderful marriage in a sense to take that and apply it to the magazine, to make the magazine an homage to the period.

As opposed to today when the magazine does… what exactly? Maybe it’s not such a smart idea to remind people of its past glories after all.

No matter. Here’s a great opportunity to dust down those copywriting skills. And this, by way of inspiration, is what you’ll be up against. A bit of Bernbach’s immortal VW Beetle advertising. And, from the same agency DDB, the scarcely less famous “We try harder” for Avis. No tobacco advertising, though. Historical authenticity doesn’t stretch to allowing parodies of a Lucky Strike campaign.

Alas, most of us in Blighty are going to have to bide our time with Mad Men Mark V. The BBC has lost the screening rights to: – subscriber-only Sky Atlantic. Roll on the series DVD, retailed by Amazon.

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