Mad Men: What Is Your Price?

The past few seasons of Mad Men have proved to be kind of "meh."

I watched though, having been committed to the series since that first season in late Summer 2007. Also, because I work in the media buying/advertising industry, I find it fascinating!

This season, though, has been fantastic. I have enjoyed every episode... No matter how dark and slow-moving. And last night's episode is no exception.  In fact, it was my favorite episode of the season so far!


I don't recall every last freaking detail of the episode.  But there were two themes that fascinated me:
  • Joan Being Pimped Out
  • Peggy Evaluating Her Role Within the Agency 

Joan Being Pimped Out
Sterling Cooper Draper Price is still a "B-" agency. They need an airline or an auto account to make them truly "legit." Jaguar (the car company) is their opportunity to become "A-List" in the agency world.

But no matter how good their creative, one of the voting member of Jaguar's decision team has made it clear that unless he gets what he wants, SCDP will not be getting the business. And he puts what he wants very clearly to Pete Campbell and Kenny Cosgrove... He wants a night with the pretty red head.

That, of course, being Joan.

Kenny is against it. Pete, being a partner in the agency, knows how desperate the agency is.  He proposes the idea to Joan, who pretty much tells him to "fuck off."

Pete then take the idea to the other partners (Roger, Bert, Skeevy Mr. Price and Don).  Don is the only one really appalled by the idea. The others aren't "fans" of it. But they know what this means to the business. Don leaves the room. The other four "vote" to offer Joan what is essentially a $50k stake in the company.

Mr. Price takes it upon himself to present the idea to Joan in a diplomatic manner to convince her. He tells her (essentially), "If you do it, you should ask for 5% of the company and to become a partner." He indicates that the other partners are favorable to the idea, and would be grateful to her.

Joan agrees to it, and tells Pete her price. She tells him she wants papers by the end of the day.

And she does it. And then she is made a partner.

The next morning, the pitch goes down. And true to agency pitches (being experienced in this area myself) the SCDP crew walks into Jaguar just as another agency pitching the business walks out. The creative is spot-on. The voting members at Jaguar love it.

It's no contest.

SCDP wins the business. They are told none of the other agencies even came close.

Makes you wonder if they still would have won it if Joan hadn't done the deed with the nasty guy from Jaguar. But what is done is done. And the pimping of Joan was done against Don's knowledge.  He finds out after.

Who knew Don Draper would become the moral compass of the show?

Peggy Evaluating Her Role In the Agency

Peggy seems to be on the shit-end of the stick in this season. She supervises the copy department. And while she may have the respect from the agency in her role, the clients do not see a woman as being equal to a man. There are accounts where she is flat-out not allowed to work on them with the client's knowledge.  SCDP does nothing to discourage this idea with the clients. So while she has come a long way with SCDP knowing they need her, she still is considered "second class."

She finally decides "enough is enough."

She takes a meeting with a competing agency.  She says she wants $18k a year. They offer her $19k a year.

It seems that she wasn't really sure that this was going come to fruition... A legitimate and good offer. The opportunity to really be treated as an equal. She tells them she needs to think about things.

It's the morning after the pitch. SCDP finds out they won the Jaguar business. Peggy runs into Don (who has just found out what Joan did) and tells him she needs to talk to him.

He thinks she is going to ask to be put on the account.

"Peggy, you know I can't have you work on Jaguar. These cary guys wouldn't have it."

She says that she needs to speak in private to him. I think him saying that is what really cements her decisions.  She realizes that while Don has provided her a lot of opportunities... He can't do anything more to further her.

She thanks him for everything. She tells him she is leaving to another agency.  He offers her more money to stay, even more than what the other agency is willing to pay her.

But, unlike Joan, Peggy doesn't have a price.

She tells him that it's time for her to move on. The subtext is, "You guys aren't going to change. So fuck you."

Peggy leaves SCDP immediately.

You can tell by Don's expression, he respects her more than ever before.

In both cases, you have a woman who is critical to the agency.  One is asked to use her feminine wiles to secure business. The other - extremely talented - is asked to step aside and let the men be the face of the business.

One submits to the wishes of the men, in order to save the business. The other decides it is no longer worth her energy.

This was an EXCELLENT episode.