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…and I’m hardly gonna be mistaken for a shrinking violet, but I still think these posters that have sprung up all over town for the new season of ‘Mad Men’ are in bad fucking taste

Just Google “Mad Men Poster” and you’ll get hit with hundreds of pages with the words ‘Controversial’, ‘Desecration’ and ‘Uproar’ featuring prominently in the headlines. Esquire suggests that the only people upset about this are “bloggers looking to create controversy”, and to that I cry, “Bullshit”! I had heard about the posters a couple of weeks ago when Michael Surtees, a graphic designer friend of mine who catalogs his daily existence on his flickr account, posted a photo of one of the posters he casually took on the walk to work with the caption, “I’m not too sure how appropriate is this Mad Men poster”

He then posted his own thoughts on the poster and the ethics behind producing such an ad on his designnotes Blog. Within days his photo had been viewed almost 37,000 times!


*EDIT* Michael just told me the photo is now at 250,000+ views…!

I hadn’t actually seen one in person until this morning when I got off the Times Square shuttle and the entire tunnel into Grand Central was plastered with them. It stopped me in my tracks. And it really pissed me off. When I was taking the shot at the top of the page, a guy walked by and said, “That Sucks!”, and I wondered if he thought maybe I was just another tourist documenting my time in the Big City and he wanted me to understand the frustration a real New Yorker might have over seeing something like this every Goddamned day as you commute to work. I wanted to say something back to him…to let him know I was just as upset as he was…but he was already gone, swallowed up among the thousands of people who seemed to be purposefully ignoring what was on the walls around them.

I know how ad guys think, and I know that not one of the fuckers who came up with the concept or worked on this campaign or greenlighted the final art didn’t know full well that they were capitalizing on the falling man imagery from 9/11 to advertise a bloody TV show. I know they’re all feelin’ puffed up and important, cuz look at how everybody is talking about what they did! All I can think is what kind of uncaring asshole would be proud of producing this, and especially to place them all over Manhattan! And before you cry that this poster is merely an extension of the show’s opening title sequence that has been part of it from the beginning, again…Bullshit! The Mad Men opening credits start in the context of an office environment and then the artifice falls away and the falling character very obviously implies the downward spiral of the shows main character. This poster was only produced to create the exact kind of controversy us ‘bloggers’ are writing about. And good for them. It worked! After almost two years off the air, we’re all talking about Don Draper again, even if it does bring up all those shitty memories from a decade ago. And maybe I’m wrong, but I seriously doubt Mr. Draper would ever sink so low as to pull up the memory of people leaping to their deaths to sell a product.

About these ads

14 Comments

  1. Brad, I’m with you. Very bad taste, and it sucks. Didn’t anyone in the agency stand up?

  2. I agree, bad taste

    • Love and I Do
    • Posted February 1, 2012 at 4:59 PM
    • Permalink

    i live in nyc and havent seen the ad!! lol maybe im blind or just not looking!! ill see if i see now

    http://www.LoveandIDo.wordpress.com

    • Aaron T
    • Posted February 1, 2012 at 5:16 PM
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    there’s a reason you see these ads and instantly know that they’re for mad men. that’s because it’s the exact falling guy, in the exact “spiraling fall” from the intro of the show. you can’t tell us that we “can’t use that argument” in support of these ads. it’s the freaking truth! go watch the intro. is the PC age so rampant, that a show can’t reference a falling character without some blogger distorting it’s meaning and putting an agenda into the mouth of the advertisers?

    sorry, no ad agency can account for what every schmuck on the web is going to pervert the meaning of their ad to be. to say that this is them unquestionably “capitalizing on the falling man imagery of 9/11″ is just ignorant. like incredibly ignorant.

    you know who’s capitalizing on the fallen men of 9/11? you. your blog. bloggers just like you. taking photos of ads, perverting their meaning, creating some web drama, then “tracking your hits” on the image.

    yah…i should learn to stay away from blogs. just a bunch of wankers.

    I tell ya what, Aaron. If you had lived through 9/11 in New York City instead of Houston, then maybe I’d give you a pass on your views, but the simple fact is, you WERE living in Houston, so I hafta knock you down a few pegs on the “I Give A Shit What You Say” meter. And this is hardly about being ‘politically correct’…I’m probably the least politically correct asshole you could ever meet. You’re just gonna hafta live knowing there are a lotta guys like me with opinions that don’t quite line up with yours. And yes…we’re all just a bunch of wankers. BT

    • David B.
    • Posted February 1, 2012 at 5:24 PM
    • Permalink

    Seems like a perfect canvas for New York’s graffiti artists

    Surprisingly enough, Dave…they’re all eerily untouched! BT

    ***EDIT – A friend just sent me this…..

    • Aaron T
    • Posted February 1, 2012 at 5:41 PM
    • Permalink

    Right….because living in Houston means I live in a bubble void from human reasoning and I was completely unaffected by 9/11…and that there’s no way on earth I could personally know people who were absolutely devastated by family losses on that day. You’re right. Way to read me.

    And to my point, the world doesn’t revolve around your little NYC bubble either. Everything on the planet doesn’t point back to the tragedy of that day. We’re not all sitting around trying to find ways to capitalize on the imagery of that attack. We’re not all trying to find a way to do something that will relate to Brad Trent and his NYC pals. There IS a world outside of NYC…believe it or not.

    I can look at anything and find a way to correlate it to whatever I want. It’s not hard. So don’t act like you’re doing anything other than capitalizing on someone else’s marketing campaign and obtaining a few unique/new blog hits because of some senseless drama you stirred up.

  3. I agree 100% especially the phone box image with buildings reflected into the background, in poor taste.

    • Andrew Langley
    • Posted February 1, 2012 at 7:30 PM
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    Have to admit that living on the left coast I had no idea that the falling man pic was NOT from the series. Maybe I live under a rock and had not felt the impact of the 9/11 shot or when I saw it I winced and looked away then promptly forgot it. We all have our coping skills and strategies. And maybe that’s the rub…. maybe the ad agency KNEW of the sensitivity in NYC and papered the campaign all over town for greatest impact and attention. Out here we haven’t been beaten over the head with it yet.

    • DFB
    • Posted February 1, 2012 at 10:23 PM
    • Permalink

    Really don’t get why you have a problem with it. Are you that sensitive that any image of a person in freefall gets you in a tizzy? Would you like a ban on skydiving and bungee jumping? Are we (ie the rest of the world) forever forbidden from depicting anything that resembles a person falling for fear of upsetting some uptight NYers? Fuck, last month you guys were bitching because some Koreans had the temerity to propose a building project that involved two towers – claiming (as you are here) that it was exploitative of 11/9 (sorry, I know you guys write your dates backwards, but I’m not going to). Guess what, sometimes it’s not about you.

    In Australia we have a saying

    Harden the Fuck up.

    I guess it would translate to ‘get over it’ in America

    I suggest you try it.

    Hate to burst your bubble, but some of us over here know who Chopper Reid is, and we’re plenty fuckin’ hard, thank you very much. BT

    • Chris
    • Posted February 1, 2012 at 10:47 PM
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    You know what the imagery is about, the opening sequence of Mad Men. You even explain perfectly how the opening sequence works. You know and exxon it is an extension of that, yet you want to make it about something else. Sounds like someone wants to capitalize off of other’s unfounded anger and unwarranted controversy.

    • Scotty P
    • Posted February 2, 2012 at 2:12 AM
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    Get over it. There is no building in the picture and it appears as a sequence from the opening titles. If it is so offensive then why were people not offended when the show first aired the sequence many years ago.
    It is over 10 years since the buildings came down, move on and stop thinking everything has something to do with what happened in the past.
    What I find amazing is the lack of thought that goes into the thousands of innocent people killed by American armed forces and then minimised by calling them Collateral Damage. When I contrast that with the neuroticism shown whenever 9/11 comes up i can only shake my head in disbelief.

    I’m gonna try to not spend the rest of the day educating the ignorant and the uninformed, but I feel I have to correct you on a few points. Despite what you might think, the were many people who felt the opening title sequence of ‘Mad Men’ did hit a still-raw nerve when the show first debuted, but I was not one of them. I understood the link they were making with the falling businessman metaphor and didn’t have a problem with it at all. In fact, I thought it was quite brilliant. My problem with the new campaign is that it strips away all the context of the opening sequence that makes it work and only leaves a falling man…a graphic image that only makes sense if you are already a fan of the show. But ‘Mad Men’, as popular as it might be, is hardly viewed by everyone. In its best season it had just under 3 million viewers. That can hardly be considered mainstream in a country of over 300 million people. So when you drop a bunch of posters showing a falling man in New York…a city of 8 million people…even though it’s “over 10 years since the buildings came down”, you’re probably going to piss some of them off. By the way, saying something as insensitive as “it is over 10 years since the buildings came down” goes a long way to make me not really care what you think. I suppose while we’re getting over that whole 9/11 annoyance we might just as well forget about the Holocaust, because after all, that was like a million years ago, right?!! BT

    • Charlie Eh
    • Posted February 2, 2012 at 12:22 PM
    • Permalink

    BT, I saw you crowing on FB and came here to read up a bit more on your post. I have just one word: Context.

    Yeah, you know I live in a place where the tallest building is the 3-story library at the local college and between the 4 local airplane flights there’s are not enough people or fuel to blow out the candles on my birthday cake so it’s not as visceral a reaction to seeing these posters for people like myself (and others posting here) as it is for you and other New Yorkers (and to a lesser extent New Jersey-ites).

    Keeping in mind that the motivations of ad agencies are to create “buzz” for products, this one could be considered successful and people inclined to watch the show would not boycott it because of these posters and those “offended”* are, in all probability, not fans anyway.

    *that’s my cynical side showing -

    CA

  4. Agreed. They painted this image onto the entire side of the Hotel Figueroa (150′ tall) in downtown Los Angeles (across from the very busy Staples Center), where the size and image of it become even more direct and chilling.

  5. I had to get to the bottom of your post to figure out why it was so offensive to you. I can understand how someone traumatized by 9/11 might interpret the poster that way, but my first impression was that it was just an extension of the opening credits (actually, my first impression was that the posters were visually dull). If there were an implied skyscraper next to the figure then I’d maybe buy that it was reflective of 9/11, but a falling person, outside of any context, is just a falling person. If the ad agency should be blamed for anything, it should be blamed for doing inadequate research on the how New Yorkers would react to the campaign. I now expect a rapid apology and a new campaign.


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  1. [...] “Maybe I’m wrong, but I seriously doubt Mr. Draper would ever sink so low as to pull up the memory to people leaping to their deaths to sell a product,” wrote blogger Brad Trent in a post titled “I Live In New York…” [...]

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