Episode 11 of Mad Men delivers intense emotions and bares the souls of the partners. Of all the episodes to date, this one touches more emotional chords than any other. Don’s rollercoaster ride with Peggy takes him from being an inconsiderate, nasty boss to feeling an odd mix of betrayal, loss and affectionate pride in her decision to leave SCDP. Don’s emotional journey with Joan moves from standing by her as a kind and considerate friend to discovering that his partners secretly undermine his good intentions and efforts by convincing her to prostitute herself for the agency. While Don is disappointed and devastated, these are watershed moments for Peggy and Joan. Both women assert their strength, resolve and determination to move onward, outward and upward. Pete reveals just how far and low he is willing to go for the recognition and glory of a big new business win and he enlists the partners in his seedy plans. In the meantime Lane’s agony and angst continue as a precursor to what is sure to be a gut wrenching reckoning.
The Ethos Of New Business
The Jaguar account is a big prize on Madison Avenue and an even bigger necessity for SDCP. Don’s rallying cry in episode 10 captures the importance of this win. “Every agency on Madison Avenue is defined by the moment they got their car account. When we land Jaguar, the world will know we’ve arrived.” Don also sees this as his opportunity to reaffirm his creative “chops” by winning the business the way he believes it should be won…..on the strength and presentation of the agency’s creative product. Unfortunately, this ideal scenario does not play out the way Don envisions it.
New business is an enlightening lens through which to view the essence of the advertising business, the inner workings of an agency and the character of its principals. Of course the strength of the creative work is always a primary driver of success or failure. Very often other factors such as personal relationships, politics, economics and luck emerge as important elements in the mix.
How an agency reacts to and balances this complex and dynamic mix dictates the outcome. SCDP’s Jaguar saga has it all…schmoozing the decision makers, providing private “incentives”, down to the wire creative worksessions, pulling a brilliant line out of the hat at the eleventh hour and delivering a riveting emotional presentation. Ginsberg transforms an off target and tasteless representation of Jaguar as a mistress into a positioning of the car as an attainable trophy of beauty and class. “At last, something beautiful you can truly own.” Don's positive response is immediate and he internalizes its meaning and power to deliver a mesmerizing presentation to the client. Another Kodak moment for Don and everyone in the room believes and is committed. The juxtaposition of Don’s conference room campaign presentation with Joan’s hotel room "presentation" of herself to the client is brilliantly executed.