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AMC's Falling Man 'Mad Men' Ads-Too Close to Home?

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Just weeks before the much-awaited return of AMC's "Mad Men," a promotional campaign for the fifth season of the hit show about 1960's Madison Avenue is sparking controversy as some folks say it evokes images from the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The latest
The latest "Mad Men" ads are sparking controversy over their imagery.

In question is a minimalist image featured on billboards, on public telephone booths and in subway stations. It depicts a man wearing a suit stenciled in black, as he falls through the sky against a stark white background. Several family members of 9/11 victims told the New York Times that for them, the image conjures the memory of people forced to jump out of the crumbling, blazing Twin Towers more than 10 years ago.

The sudden outrage suggests that many Americans aren't familiar with the show, since this image of the falling man has been utilized in the show's opening credits and has been emblematic of the series -- and its lead character, Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm -- from the beginning.

Promotional poster for this season.
Promotional poster for this season.

Wikipedia notes that the title sequences pay homage to graphic designer Saul Bass's skyscraper-filled opening titles for Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" and the falling-man movie poster for "Vertigo." The show's creator, Matthew Weiner, has listed Hitchcock as a major influence on the visual style of the series, says the Wikipedia page.

That the posters are now causing a stir is likely due to heightened outdoor and print advertising around the show's fifth season, as well as a recent article in Esquire that made the comparison to 9/11.

A promo from a previous season of the show.
A promo from a previous season of the show.

AMC denies any link between its advertising and 9/11. In a statement, the network told the New York Times: "The image of Don Draper tumbling through space has been used since the show began in 2007 to represent a man whose life is in turmoil. The image used in the campaign is intended to serve as a metaphor for what is happening in Don Draper's fictional life and in no way references actual events."

We included here the image as well as another promo for this season and one from a prior season. Have a look and tell us what you think in the comments. Were the creators of the show deliberately trying to gin up controversy to publicize the return of "Mad Men"? Or did they just inadvertently irk some people?

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