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Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Don Draper (Jon Hamm). Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC

Your (Updated) Guide to 'Mad Men' and Advertising History

Catch Up on the Show and the Adland History Behind It

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"Mad Men" was called one of the best-written shows on TV soon after its debut in 2007, but it is returning for a seventh and final season to a TV landscape that's much improved in the interim. Viewers, meanwhile, may be increasingly impatient as the end approaches, following a sixth season whose slow burn sometimes risked intertia.

Because the final episode won't run until 2015, however, there'll be plenty of time to talk it all over here. The rest of the media, of course, will cover the phenomenon too, starting this time around with a Time cover story, "The Last Days of Mad Men."

This page includes all of our new "Mad Men" and "Mad Men"-era news, columns and video, including recaps by Matthew Creamer (spoilers follow) and our version of a "Mad Men" Mad Libs (your chance to rewrite TV's best writing).

Season Seven Recaps and News

Chiat Pushes for Equality, Revlon Plans Men's Genital Deodorant: Real 'Mad Men'-Era News
See what was making Ad Age headlines while Don, Peggy and company were trying to figure out family, and the Burger Chef pitch.

A Happy Family
"The Strategy" plays a lot with alternative ideas of family, even the kind of family created by Burger Chef.

The Real 'Mad Men' Diaries: Bob Kuperman
In the second in our series on the real Mad Men of the show's era, Bob Kuperman almost passed on the opportunity to be part of one of adland's hottest agencies, DDB, and most-salivated over accounts, VW. "I told Ben, 'Well, I'd like to take the weekend to think it over,'" recalls Mr. Kuperman today with a chuckle. "And Ben said, 'Do you realize there's a line out the door to work here?'" If he hadn't come aboard, the classic VW commercial "1949 Auto Show" might never have been.

Research Shows Long Client Lunches Are Actually Worth It:
See classic Ad Age headlines from the "Mad Men" era.

The Real 'Mad Men' Diaries: Keith Reinhard
In the first of a video series on the real Mad Men of the 1960's and 70's, Keith Reinhard recalls landing McDonald's for Needham Harper & Steers and coming up with "You Deserve a Break Today."

Technophobia
When Michael Ginsberg was introduced the agency's first Jew, we were set up for the show to grapple a bit with Madison Avenue's -- and by extension American culture's -- history of anti-Semitism. This season, though, the quirky writer has slid into mental illness, only accelerated by the installation of a mainframe computer in Sterling Cooper & Partners. Read Matthew Creamer's recap.

"Mad Men" Throwback Thursday: Real Ad Age News From May 1969
Including the classic headline "Creative Folk Strut, Talk to Selves." Details here.

Cosmic Disturbance
When a drunk Don encounters the agency's computer installer, he sounds like he's listened to "Sympathy for the Devil" one too many times. "You talk like a friend but you're not … You go by many names." Read the recap.

"Mad Men" Throwback Thursday: Real Ad Age Headlines From April 1969
Ad Age used to conduct annual surveys of adland obituaries to calculate how long you were surviving. That and other discoveries here.

MadTech
"We need to invest in a computer, period," Jim Cutler tells his partners at Sterling Cooper & Partners as they decide what to do about Don. "Not in creative hijinks." Read the recap.

"Mad Men" Throwback Thursday: More Real Headlines From 1969
Ogilvy really did win Hershey, Quaker targeted the "ghetto" and more. See what Ad Age was covering during the final season of "Mad Men." Check out actual advertising headlines from January 1969.

Agency's Odd Ad for Itself During "Mad Men" Wasn't Even Its Weirdest
The spot, which ran in the Chiacgo area, seems like a crossover between AMC's adland show and its zombie hit "The Walking Dead." But the agency behind it has done stranger work. Watch it here.

Chewed Up and Spit Out
In which the show simultaneously finds a villain who makes Don look good by comparison and brings race back to the fore. Read the recap.

"Mad Men" Throwback Thursday: Real Ad Headlines From the Days of the Final Season
The return of "Mad Men" found Don Draper watching Richard Nixon become president. Check out actual advertising headlines from January 1969, courtesy of the Ad Age archives.

Does Woodford Reserve's Bourbon Ad Liberate or Discriminate?
Woodford Reserve bourbon debuted its first-ever TV campaign during AMC's "Mad Men" on Sunday night. And by Monday morning, the Brown-Forman-owned brand was already dealing with charges that the debut ad is sexist. Critics missed the point, Brown-Forman said.

Premiere Recap: Out in the Cold
We know that the show's seventh and final season will be about rising up out of the depths. The question before us: Just how painful can purgatory be, especially when there's no booze to numb it? Matthew Creamer's recaps return.

AMC's "Mad Men" Premieres Down in Viewers
"Mad Men" came back with a strong episode but a weaker audience than the premiere a season earlier. Numbers here.

See Our Favorite (Real) Ads From the Final Season of "Mad Men"
From American Tourister to Volkswagen, check out the work that closed out one decade and opened another. 15 great campaigns here.

Do You Have Your "Mad Men" Drinking Game Ready?
Simon Dumenco tries to remember what the show is about but knows it has something to do with drinking. Prepare.

AMC Will Hold Back Ad Time in the Last "Mad Men" as Long as Possible
TV networks typically sell commercial time far ahead of time, but AMC Networks President Charlie Collier thinks he can get way more money by waiting until the last second. Read Jeanine Poggi's report.

Season Six Recaps and News

Finale Recap: Goodbye to All That
The sixth season of "Mad Men" was bookended by a pair of brutally honest moments with unsuspecting clients. Read Matthew Creamer's final recap of the season.

Introducing SC&P
Life is all about compromise. The naming of this unholy union was no different. Read the recap

Betty's Back
When Betty and Don end up playacting husband and wife at an event for Bobby's summer camp, you have to suspend some disbelief. Read the recap

Need for Speed
That the electrifying opening -- a dark, tight, frantic shot of Ken Cosgrove, a speeding car, a gun -- was not even the strangest moment in "The Crash" tells you just how bizarre it was. Read the recap

Don Is Not My Co-Pilot
Don doesn't drink blood -- at least not yet -- but last night was an object lesson in how the 1968 version of Don Draper wields power in the office and out. What was once slick and attractive is now boorish and bleak. Read the recap

SCDPCGCWTF?!: What Should the New "Mad Men" Agency Be Called?
There may be a new agency arriving on the scene, giving us an opportunity to kick around likely names with Jane Maas, Wexley School for Girls, Walrus and others. Your turn!

Size Matters
For anyone who felt the sixth season was veering into the soap operatic, this episode should have been a return to form. Read the recap

Yep, That's How the Ad Biz Reacted to a National Tragedy
Can this episode possibly, really represent how the ad industry really dealt with such a horrifying moment? Actually, yes. Read the recap

The Invisible Woman: Is 'Mad Men' Finally Taking On Race?
Dawn's introduction last season, coming after that memorable racist water-balloon incident, felt like a head fake. We got that one strange night on Peggy's couch and then nothing. But now with the King assassination looming, we're getting some sense of a more developed black character. We even see Dawn outside of work twice, eating at a black coffee shop with a friend. Read the recap

Trouble at SCDP? Fo' Chaough
As more than one central character verges on falling apart, it's beginning to seem like the moral center of the show is over at Cutler, Gleason and Chaough. Bonus material: We've got a real Heinz-DDB presentation from 1968. Read the recap (and DDB's presentation on Heinz to the 4A's)

How to Capitalize on Your Brand's Unplanned Star Turn on "Mad Men"
Even after Koss got wind of its headphones' role in the "Mad Men" premiere, producers wouldn't explain the part it would play, CEO Michael Koss said. Read the article

Try the "Mad Men" Rewrite Generator
Think you could write "Mad Men"? Give us a noun, a verb and a job title. Fire up the rewrite machine

Premiere Recap: Blue Hawaii
The late 1960s are in full bloom, along with beards, mustaches and sideburns. Pot smoke flows freely. Peggy Olson leans in. Don goes way off-brief. But it begins in an emergency. Read the recap

In Honor of "Mad Men"'s Return, See Our Favorite Ads From the 1960s
How does the work of today compare with that of the '60s? Check out some of the classics from advertising's golden age and see how far creativity has come -- or not. See the ads

Banana Republic's CMO on the Latest "Mad Men" Collection
The brand is working with the show's costume designer, Janie Bryant, on its third "Man Men" collection and has introduced an online content hub themed "Mad for Mod." Read the story

Season Five Recaps and News

Credit: Ron Jaffe/AMC

Finale Recap: You've Kinda, Sorta Come a Long Way, Baby
With ascent sometimes comes the lowering of expectations and standards, not to mention tarred lungs and compromise.Read Matthew Creamer's recap.

Defining Happiness Downward
"Even though success is a reality, the effects are temporary," Don barks at a prospective big client in the season's penultimate episode, which also includes TV's first dramatic scene about agency compensation models. Read the recap

So How Did Jaguar Like Its Creepy "Mad Men" Role?
"I'm a big fan of the show and it was gratifying to see our brand portrayed," a Jaguar executive said. Then he added, laughing, "I would say we were fairly surprised at the turn of events." See his reaction

Big Pimpin'
In which "Mad Men" connects some dots amid the all-important Jaguar pitch. Read the recap

Harry Krishna
Don Draper's most interesting relationships have always been with the strong women who manage to parry his charm. Harry Crane, meanwhile, has gotten entangled with a Hare Krishna who goes by Mother Lakhsmi. Read the recap

Sno Ball, Manischewitz and Envy
Don and Betty experience asymmetrical jealousies. Plus: Have you seen this real Manischewitz commercial starring Sammy Davis Jr.? Read the recap

Credit: Ron Jaffe/AMC

Saved by the Bell... Jar
For a show that 's yet to see a major character bite the dust, "Mad Men" is fairly steeped in death. Also this week, Cool Whip. Read the recap

The Dirty City
Where is Dr. Edna when you need her? 'Tis a pity that the sure-handed child psychologist hasn't been around lately for former patient Sally Draper, who witnesses a potentially psyche-destroying scene. Read the recap

The Orange Sherbet Acid Test
Though we wouldn't have guessed it, Don Draper is all in when it comes to Howard Johnson's. He's, like, a huge fan. Read the recap

Not Pete Campbell's Favorite Episode of "Mad Men"
One-third of the way into the new season, Pete gets lessons in morality (from Don Draper) and conference room brawling (from Lane Pryce). Read the recap

Maybe We Should All Crawl Under the Bed
Fear in "Mad Men" has usually trickled down from big historical events, most memorably the Cuban Missile Crisis. But this episode finds fear becoming more of an inescapable part of everyday life. Also: Does Roger Sterling do anything at the office any more? Read the recap

Rolling Stones' Rice Krispies Commercial and the Return of Betty
Creativity , in the "Mad Men" universe of 1966, is in flux. The opening salvos of the revolution heralded by Bernbach's self-consciously straight-shooting ads for Volkswagen have been turned cliche, as Peggy shows when she holds up a minimalist ad for toilet paper and says "If I see one more Volkswagen ad with something else in it..." Read the recap

"Mad Men" Is Great Art, Not Such Great TV Business
Despite its focus on the selling of corporate America, "Mad Men" does more for art than it does for commerce, TV Editor Brian Steinberg argues. Read the column

Season Five Premiere Gets Show's Biggest Audience Yet
The show's return drew 3.5 million viewers, a bigger audience than any previous episode got. That's still a smaller audience than many shows get on broadcast TV or even some big cable networks. Read the story

Premiere Recap: What You Missed on "Mad Men" Last Night
The show's season five debut featured racial irresponsibility, intra-agency rivalry and a randy "Zou Bisou Bisou." And then there was Pryce acting strangely. Read the recap

See All the Retro Ads in Newsweek's "Mad Men" Issue
Brands including Allstate, Lincoln, Tide, Mercedes-Benz, British Airways, Johnnie Walker, Benetton and Spam revived "Mad Men"-era styles for an issue of Newsweek marking the show's return with throwback design. The Johnnie Walker ad and one starring Smokey the Bear actually ran in the 1960s. But most of the ads temporarily revived their brands' old look -- sometimes with anachronistic winks, like the one suggesting a visit to the brand's website "in 47 years." See all the ads

What Miniskirts Will Mean: Your Need-to-Know on "Mad Men" Season Five
In which we peer through the window at the new season, identifying the big questions, likely themes and potentially big accounts in play. But don't click here if you're still catching up on season four. Read the story

"Mad Men" Reading List: Catch Up On the Characters and the Culture
One of the things we love about "Mad Men" is how thoroughly accurate the show is about the era. If you don't want to miss the references, you may appreciated these suggested readings, from "The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook" to "The Feminine Mystique." Read the story

Q&A: Vincent Kartheiser Is Nothing Like His "Mad Men" Character Pete Campbell
He's a minimalist who grew up without a TV. And despite Hollywood's reliance on publicity, he has no Facebook page and might not be sure how to pronounce "Twitter." Read the interview.

Video: Sex and Work on Madison Avenue in the "Mad Men" Era
Jane Maas, a creative director at Oglivy & Mather during the "Mad Men" era, talked to Ad Age Agency Editor Rupal Parekh about navigating a overwhelmingly male workplace. Young & Rubicam was the real "hotbed of sex," she said. Watch the video

"Many a Grateful Widow": New York Life Ads in "Mad Men" Days and Today
New York Life's main marketing goals haven't changed much, but the way it talks to consumers certainly had to. Watch the video

Video: Droga on "Mad Men": They Dressed Better, But Things Are More Interesting Now
There were great ads in the 1960s -- including a VW commercial and an Alka-Seltzer spot set in a prison, both excerpted in this video -- but all the fragmentation, pressure and chaos today are set to forge a new golden age, Droga5 Creative Chairman David Droga said in this interview with Ad Age Editor Abbey Klaassen. "Out of the chaos is going to emerge a stronger, brighter industry," he said. Watch the video

Controversy Brews Over Ads for New Season of "Mad Men"
Just weeks before the long-awaited fifth season of AMC's "Mad Men," a promotional campaign for the hit show sparked controversy as some said it evokes images of 9/11. Ads on buildings, phone booths and elsewhere depict a man wearing a suit stenciled in black as he falls through the sky against a stark white background. Read the story

Who's a Coward When It Comes to Race, "Mad Men" Writers or the Ad Industry?
"Mad Men" has previously come under fire for not addressing the issue of race -- or not addressing it in a manner that 's to critics' liking. But a pair of Slate articles argued that the show portrays race relations in the industry at the time. "It's a show about advertising," Slate said. "And it is advertising, not 'Mad Men,' that is written by cowards." Read the story

True Tales and Cocktails with the Real Mad Men and Women of Madison Avenue
There's a wealth of buzz about the new season of Mad Men and its depiction of the industry's past, but reporter Rupal Parekh got to hang out with the real thing: legendary advertising folks from the era. Read the story

It's Time for "Mad Men" to Play "Moneyball"
It was strangely appropriate that the movie shown to thousands of ad-industry execs flying United, Continental and American to CES was "Moneyball," the story of Billy Beane's use of data to compete with the Yankees. Read the story

Why "Mad Men" Needs More Advertising, Not Less
Tongues were aflutter over the inevitable delay in getting the fifth season of "Mad Men" up and running on AMC. One issue: AMC wanted to shorten the time allotted to content and devote those minutes to advertising. Was that really so unreasonable? Read the story

What Does Roger Sterling (OK, John Slattery) Think of Advertising?
Piers Morgan, the successor to the "Larry King Live" time slot on CNN, was hoping to tackle sexism in the ad industry during his Q&A panel at Advertising Age's Media Evolved Conference in New York. Luckily, his interview subject was John Slattery, aka "Mad Men's" Roger Sterling, "arguably the most sexist character on television." Read the story

Unilever Breaks Multibrand "Mad Men" Blitz
Despite the show's comparatively low ratings and modest ad revenue, package-goods behemoth Unilever is making a big bet on AMC's "Mad Men" with the launch of a marketing blitz for six of its iconic brands: Dove, Breyers, Hellman's, Klondike, Suave and Vaseline. Read the story

An evolving industry

Season 4 recaps from Matthew Creamer

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