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!
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.