Personal trauma and professional troubles intermingled in powerful ways on this week’s episode. Don’s lies about his past collided with current business realities that jeopardize significant new account revenue for SCDP—sorely needed revenue at a time when the agency is about to absorb a major body blow with the loss of Lucky Strike. On top of that, three of the agency’s partners were simultaneously dealing with profound personal issues. Don was having panic attacks about the potential collateral damage that could be caused by the secrets of his past. Joan’s pregnancy was taking an emotional toll on Roger and potentially creating operational disruptions. Lane’s leave of absence to deal with family matters would mean that SCDP would be without its financial master and conscience. All of this was swirling up into a storm of distractions from day-to-day operations at a very inopportune time.
Two Sides Of The Defense Business
The scenario involving the North American Aviation account pointed out some of the realities of working with a defense contractor. About 15 years ago at McCann-Erickson I had the opportunity to work closely with McDonnell Douglas aviation, a positive and enlightening experience for which we also had to go through a clearing process similar to the partners at SCDP. Defense contractor accounts have always been complicated for agencies. They usually were profitable pieces of business with solid revenue and reasonable stability. However, working with a government contractor also required very special handling and nurturing by account management, heightened confidentiality, full personal disclosure, financial and operational scrutiny, and the hiring of specialty creative teams. Additionally, agencies with defense contractors on their roster were sometimes subject to criticism and singling out by activists, an especially complex client dynamic in those wonderful Mad Men days.
Pete Has Don’s Back - Don Backs Up Pete
The situation on the NAA account once again put Don and Pete at a crossroads. When Pete declared that he had spent the last four years nurturing the NAA account “from cocktails to a four million dollar business” he was not exaggerating the work and dedication it took to build the business. Don’s curt response to “get rid of it” showed just how desperate things had become for him. Pete’s agreement to cover for Don and resign the account brought Pete to the realization that without Don, SCDP would not be a viable agency. The partners meeting in which an obviously stressed and usually unflappable Roger berated Pete for screwing up the NAA business brought Don to Pete’s defense. Strange bedfellows made even stranger after Pete showed up at Don’s apartment and found Faye there. As Pete put it, "I come here unannounced and here's yet another thing I don't want to know."