Did the mad men of Mad Men deliberately provoke New Yorkers?

3 Mar

I was sorry to read that some families of the victims of 9/11 have been hurt by the latest out-of-home ads promoting Season 5 of Mad Men.

Falling man from controversial Mad Men Season 5 ad

As you can see, the ads depict a man in free-fall down the side of a building. This is a familiar image to fans of the show as it is essentially the narrative thread of the show’s opening sequence.

It is also a familiar image to people all over the world who watched men and women jump to their deaths from the burning towers.

9/11 falling man and falling man from Mad Men ad Season 5I do understand that people who had lost loved ones in that massacre would feel jarred by the sight of this on a building in New York. This is unfortunate for everyone involved, advertisers and audience alike.

The buzz out there is that the Mad Men promotions team was somehow looking to capitalize on New York sensitivity and could not have been unaware of the impact of this particular execution.

There are some ads out there that are deliberately designed to needle. This one for Benetton would fall into that category.

Unhate campaign by Benetton with Obama and Chavez kissing

But would the mad men of Mad Men feel it necessary to skewer the deepest sensitivities of New Yorkers on purpose like this? Or was this just an unfortunate miscalculation?

I’ll let you decide.

(Mad Men photos courtesy AMC)


14 Responses to “Did the mad men of Mad Men deliberately provoke New Yorkers?”

  1. tribalstylemarketing March 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Having never watched the show, & now watching the intro on Youtube, I think the more important question is, why did they choose to use that man falling in the opening credits?

  2. Christie March 3, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    I hope it was an unfortunate coincidence.

  3. Doug Brown March 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    I want to think so too Christie. However, my first reaction upon seeing the ad was “Wow, will that ever get under the skin of New Yorkers.” Wonder why no one on the creative team went there?

  4. Anonymous March 3, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    It’s hard to believe they weren’t aware of the effect this ad would have on New Yorkers. This image made me feel sad and disinclined to watch the new season.

  5. Doug Brown March 3, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    On the other hand, you get so close to ideas sometimes in this business that you can’t see the bigger picture. Thanks for the comment.

  6. Doug Brown March 4, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    In response to Tribal Style (sorry, your comment got hung up in our spam filter!), the falling man in the opening sequence references the Don Draper character, a man who has fictionalized his existence and is in constant free-fall. If you watch Season 1 – and I recommend you do because it’s amazing television – you will get the significance of the opening. It’s become even more relevant as the show has progressed.

  7. margriet aasman March 5, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    I haven’t watched the show, but hear it is great television.

    I love intelligent and clever concepts. Sometimes one pops to mind and there is no other idea, because this one is just too great. The creative team for Mad Men were clever enough to come up with this idea, they darn well knew the impact it would have.

    Sometimes we have to shelve those great ideas for very obvious reasons.

  8. Doug Brown March 5, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    Some of our best ideas never see the light of a client boardroom because we know the risk is greater than the reward. It would be interesting to hear from the creative team on this. You should definitely watch the series Margriet – it’s quite amazing!

  9. sarah March 6, 2012 at 4:45 am #

    Lots of emotions here.

    How about some Hard Facts for a change?

  10. Doug Brown March 6, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    It’s an interesting link Sarah, but irrelevant to this topic.

  11. Paige March 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    I love the show, and I can’t imagine that the promo was consciously designed to provoke pain. Doug, I agree with you that it was probably a matter of someone not seeing the bigger picture.

    Here’s an awesome Simpsons parody of Mad Men that you’ve more than likely seen:

  12. Doug Brown March 7, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    I had never seen this Paige – phenomenal! Thank you so much for sharing that. I can’t get enough of the Simpsons. Appreciate the comment.

  13. KtC March 19, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    Speaking as a New Yorker I have to say that That Day isn’t a particularly image-heavy event for most people I know. We didn’t experience it on TV… we’re more tripped out, I think, by reminders of the smoke or the smell or the fliers everywhere looking for loved ones. Many of us had no television for quite some time afterwards, actually.

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