Monday, May 18, 2015


I never gave this commercial much thought with regards to its placement in Toobworld, but thanks to the series finale of 'Mad Men' we now know that it has to be considered as a blipvert in Earth Prime-Time as well and not part of "real life" during prime time.

In those closing moments of the show, the former Don Draper, stripped down to his true identity of Dick Whitman, was on a sunny California cliffside with others of a commune who were practicing yoga.  As a small enigmatic smile formed, the scene dissolved to the commercial.

I think the main inference from this has to be that Don was inspired to create that ad campaign (In the Real World it was produced by McCann-Erickson.) and most likely reverted back to the only life where he was most at home - the world of advertising.  Your mileage may vary.

The finale took place in late October of 1970 and the commercial was first broadcast in the summer of 1971.  McCann-Erickson gathered young people from all over the world, some in native dress, and all holding bottles of Coca-Cola bearing labels printed in their native languages, on a hillside in England for the shoot.  However the rains made the ground too hazardous to work on and so the production was shipped to a far sunnier (and drier!) hilltop in Italy.

In the past 'Mad Men' has fictionalized the Real World products that were the clients of Sterling Cooper - like Kodak, Utz, Jaguar.... - and the same holds true here in claiming that the commercial was born from Draper's inspiration in California.  (More than likely for that soulless corporation, it was put together in committee.)  

Some folks online have even speculated that some of the singers cast in the blipvert were perhaps chosen by Don Draper himself, based on the people he met on his cross-country search for his soul in 1970.  As evidence they've offered up this comparison between the girl who worked the desk at the resort and one of the girls in the commercial:

There's another reason why I'm sticking with the idea that Don reverted to his old lifestyle and was responsible for that Coca-Cola advert.  I like to see it as the jumping-off point for Don's life after prime time.

I think Don also came up with the idea for Coke's next great TV commercial as well:

But that wouldn't occur for nearly a decade, in 1980.  So much could have happened to Don in the meantime, such as trying to compete with the new style of advertising that seemed to lampoon the old-fashioned values he espoused in earlier campaigns.  Ads by Stan Freberg for Great American Soups, or the campaigns mounted by Joe Sedelmeier for products and services like Alka-Seltzer, Benson & Hedges, AMC cars, and Federal Express.  I think that's a very good reason why the show had to end when it did - it was a whole different world in advertizing, one which would have meant the show's production would have to take on a whole new look and tone.  It just wouldn't have been the same.

Getting back to that Mean Joe Green Coke commercial....  I'd like to think that Don would have found inspiration for that in something his son Bobby or even his youngest, Gene*, did in real life with some other athlete.  (Preferably a fictional football player from an episode that dealt with pro sports - 'McMillan & Wife' had one, so did 'The Odd Couple'.....)

It's just something we were never going to be able to see from the Trueniverse....


* Gene may have carried his Dad's last name, but not his "genes".  I believe he was the product of Betty Draper's one-time encounter with some young stud in a bar's bathroom.....

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