"The show is, above all, slick and professional. It would be no
less slick and professional if it were also cautiously accurate.
Here, I think of this season's opening episode that was devoted to
London Fog. It was presented as a tired, 40-year-old company whose
advertising was in trouble. Sterling Cooper was the agency and
Don Draper, the creative lead in the show, has a
business-saving ad for Israel and Jon
Myers, owners of the company. [The ad] shows a nude model
in a London Fog flashing the audience and the headline 'Limit Your
"London Fog was not a tired, 40-year-old brand at the time, as
it was launched in 1954 when it changed from Londontown Clothes, a
Baltimore men's clothing manufacturer, to its current brand title
and rainwear emphasis. Gilbert Advertising handled the brand
through the '60s and built a body of work that was acclaimed for
its creative brilliance and brand dominance. London Fog's 65%
Dacron/35% cotton fabric was the soul of the rainwear industry, and
in 1960 the company was at the beginning of its advertising
"It is also questionable whether a warm, traditional, avuncular
Jewish tailor like Israel Myers would ever be seen in the halls of
a Sterling Cooper. From a chemistry, personality and sociological
point of view, it was an impossible match. Further, in 1960,
magazine censors would never accept such a 'flashing' image. We did
an ad at the time for After Six Formals with a model unfurling the
bow tie of a male model under the headline, 'The next affair you
have, make it formal.' The New Yorker accepted the ad, but the
woman's hand had to go.
"The show's producers claim that they did meticulous research,
and they obviously did -- on girdles, cigarettes, clothing,
furnishings, art work, etc. But they seem to have done little or
none on advertising for an advertising-themed show.
"All our ads were available, many in art-director annual
collections. My memoir, 'Marching Up Madison Avenue,' was also in
print [and contained] a lengthy chapter on the history of London
Fog and its advertising. It is also personally depressing to hear
from some of the incredible young talents who worked for me asking,
'Do they have a right to do this?'
"Even more shameful is that 'Mad Men' concentrates on a decaying
era of American advertising at a time when we were actually
experiencing a great creative revolution led by the incomparable
Doyle Dane Bernbach. The industry also benefited from an exciting
infusion of new talent with Jewish writers and Italian art
directors bringing refreshing humor, warmth, irreverence,
entertainment and believability to the printed page and TV screen.
'Mad Men,' in truth, is locked in the '50s, and by the early '60s,
the men portrayed were dinosaurs on their way to extinction.
"But give Matthew Weiner and his
Emmy-award-winning writers credit. They're turning those dinosaurs
into rock stars."