So, in a bold bid to secure a new account from General Motors, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and Cutler, Gleason & Chaough look like they're merging. The new agency will presumably be christened on Sunday night's episode of "Mad Men," leaving us precious few hours to speculate on what it will be called. (If only the "Mad Men" crew had our Agency Name Generator in their day.)
Ad history would suggest that the new name will be rather boring, with one agency simply gobbling up the other. That's what happened in one real-life April 1968 merger. West, Weir & Bartel disappeared after its all-stock merger with MacManus, John & Adams. But MacManus had more than four times the billings that West, Weir did. There probably isn't the same disparity between Don Draper and Ted Chaough's shops.
Plus, there are some names that could easily drop off. Pryce is dead and Gleason, with his pancreatic cancer, would seem to be a goner. Cooper is hungrily eyeing an exit. A bit of attrition might leave us with just four names to fit on the shingle: Sterling, Draper, Gleason, and Chaough. Quite manageable. They could easily go with some permutation of those names -- or use the acronym approach, which would also be somewhat in sync with history.
"Historically, Mad Men has reached the era where most agencies were no longer stringing together the names of four or five or six founders, and moving toward 'monograms,'" said Jane Maas, author of "Mad Women." "My agency, Ogilvy & Mather, became O&M; Young & Rubicam became Y&R; Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborne dwindled into BBDO."
Least likely but most fun, the show could get a 20-year jump on history and go with a moniker that not only has none of the senior partners names but also are often quite bizarre. Back in 1991, Mad Dogs and Englishmen kicked off the trend that's given us Omelet, Barton F. Graf 9000, and Moosylvania.
It's doubtful the show would go this route, but that didn't stop us from turning to a few agency observers for some out-there suggestions, beginning with Ms. Maas.
"Personally, I think Mad Men should salute the fact that women are taking over the agency business and call the agency PEGGY," she said.
Deacon Webster, founder and chief creative officer of the agency known as Walrus and once of Mad Dogs and Englishmen, offered this list:
Cutler Gleason Chaough Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce
Cal McAllister, co-founder of the wonderfully-named Seattle agency Wexley School for Girls, gave us a few suggestions:
When we named Wexley, we wanted to send the message that we were not like everyone else. The situation is different on the show. They want to be considered on par with everyone else. So if they are really talking about putting Napoleon on his own shoulders to be the big guy, they need to just go for it. Call themselves "New York City." Might as well just own it. Or "Madison Avenue." Make the land grab.
Their collective names don't really mean much, so they could try some that do. "Churchill and Kennedy." "Roosevelt, Roosevelt and Mao." "Warhol and Robinson." The last approach I'd throw at them is a story about aspiration. I might call them "Riser Advertising." Which might represent the agency of the future, a new form of advertising and what happens when two little guys get together to take on the big guys. It also might represent Racism, Infidelity, Sexism, Emotionality and Ratings.
Tom Christmann, founder and chief mongo at Mongo Industries, offered a few of his own scenarios:
- They all change their name to Draper and the agency becomes Draper, Draper, Draper, Draper, Draper & Draper (or just D6).
- Don changes his name back to Dick Whitman and the agency to Whitman and Partners
- David Ogilvy and Don are in a horrible train wreck. Don takes David's identity and changes the name of the agency to Ogilvy & Mather.
- A new secretary wiggles her nose and suddenly everyone starts calling the agency "McMann & Tate," the agency from Bewitched
- The whole thing is bought by a young Martin Sorrell, who folds it into JWT.
- In her press release, Peggy takes the opportunity to change the name to Olson, Inc.
- The ladies get together and decide to name the agency Harris Olson. This sparks the women's liberation movement of the 1970s.
What do you think the merged agency should be called?