I finally got around to watching the first episode of the new Mad Men season, which aired on Sunday. I was even more eager than usual to welcome the return of one of my favorite TV shows, as this episode was entitled: "Public Relations." The title served it justice, as the theme of PR was pretty dominant throughout.
The episode opens in a restaurant, and it quickly becomes clear that Don is being interviewed by a reporter from Ad Age. Draper is true to his character and prefers to remain tight lipped and enigmatic rather than pour on the charm and carefully crafted messages (a little media training, Don?).
Of course, this gets reflected in the piece. When they see the article, Sterling, Cooper, etc. are all chagrined that it is more about the cipher called Don Draper than the stellar work of the agency. Who in PR has not had the experience of a much anticipated article disappointing when it finally appears?
Maybe the team at the new ad shop (those who watch the show will recall that pretty much everyone had jumped ship from Sterling Cooper at the end of last season to start a new agency) is tiring of advertising as it is clear they want to freelance it with PR (with nary a real PR person or agency in sight to support their efforts). In a sub-plot, the team pulls a PR stunt by staging a fight over hams at a supermarket (part of a campaign for their client, to show a shopping craze there). The stunt gets coverage in the Daily News, although there are consequences of course.
Spoiler alert: Don gets his chance to rectify the Ad Age blunder at the end. Bert Cooper has worked his contacts to get Don interviewed with the Wall Street Journal (one might reasonably wonder why not put someone who actually has a personality, like Roger Sterling, for example, in front of the Journal). Anyway, Don goes on the offensive for this interview, although it is hard to see how this will result in a better story.
The Mad Blog, from MediaPost, does an awesome wrap of the show every week, and I am almost as eager to read these posts and the ensuing comments as watch the actual show. Of the closing scene, it says that a newly slick Don:
came out with guns blazing for his interview with The Wall Street Journal guy. The metamorphosis, signaled by a dynamic combination of sound interspersed with each line of his new verbal self-promotion, was kick-ass, and a delight to watch.
OK, but does effective media relations need to be "slick?"