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How Mad Men ads compare with ones that actually ran in the 1960s

Kodak, Lucky Strike, Right Guard… here are the ads that Don Draper and co came up with, and the ads that the companies actually ran.

OVER THE PAST five seasons, a number of real brands have appeared on Mad Men as clients of Sterling Cooper, and now Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

Those clients have included Jaguar, Kodak and cigarette company Lucky Strike.

But are the ads created by the agency in the show anything like the actual ads created for those brands 50 years ago?

We compared the ads created for the show with those that actually appeared. In most cases what we see on Mad Men is vastly different than the advertising put out by the brands during the 1960s.

1. Kodak

Don Draper pitches the Kodak Carousel account in Season 1: “Nostalgia. It’s delicate but potent. Switch it on.”

Here is the real ad for the Carousel, which was launched in 1962:

2. Swimwear company Jantzen

When Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce pitched Jantzen, the clients were turned off by the ‘wink’ in this ad

In reality, Jantzen wasn’t afraid of being a little provocative in its ads. This one is from 1960.

3. Life cereal

On the show, Life cereal wanted an ad that touted its health benefits. It rejected this Don Draper creation.

This ad from 1962 shows that Life cereal really was pushing a health message at the time.

4. Right Guard

When Draper & co land the Right Guard account, they create something they hope will appeal to female shoppers.

Real Right Guard ads in the 1960s also tried to appeal to women.

5. London Fog raincoats

In season 3, Don discovers that Sal is gay while on a business trip. That inspired this ad – where a woman flashes a man – for London Fog raincoats.

London Fog published this ad in 1964 by ad agency Leo Burnett.

6. Aquanet hairspray

In the show, Sterling Cooper pitches for the Aquanet hairspray account by acting out this commercial.

This couldn’t be further from Aquanet’s real ads during the early1960s, which starred The Three Stooges.



(Video: edwardscove/YouTube)

7. Playtex

When Sterling Cooper was told to up the ante on the Playtex account to compete with rival underwear company Maidenform, they came up with this topical beauty. Are you a Jackie or a Marilyn?

This was the ad that ran when the famous Cross Your Heart bra was launched in 1965. Soon after, Playtex would use actress Jane Russell as a spokeswoman.

8. Lucky Strike cigarettes

Lucky Strike was the big client on the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce roster. Here is a sketch from Don Draper.

American footballer Frank Gifford was the Lucky Strike spokesman from 1961 to 1962. These ads are referenced in Mad Men with Lucky Strike’s slogan ‘It’s Toasted’.

9. Samsonite luggage

Don rejects a commercial for Samsonite featuring American footballer Joe Namath and instead opts for this ad, inspired by the fight between Muhammed Ali and Sonny Liston.

But this real Samsonite ad from 1964 emphasises the style of the luggage and not the strength (although previous campaigns had showcased the product’s strength).

10. Patio Diet Cola

For Patio Diet Cola, the team at Sterling Cooper put together this ad featuring an Ann Margaret lookalike parodying her famous sequence in the film “Bye Bye Birdie.”

Patio Diet Cola was introduced by Pepsi in 1963 with this ad. This is one of very few produced for the brand before it became Diet Pepsi.

11. Hilton hotels

Conrad Hilton comes to Don to ask for a new campaign for Hilton Hotels. This campaign – “Your window to the world” – failed to impress Hilton, who wanted Don to aim for the moon.

Hilton had a variety of campaigns in the 1960s. Some emphasised service, others locations, and still more world peace through travel. Here is one ad from that period.

12. Glo-Coat floor wax

Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s first hit campaign was for Glo-Coat. This TV commercial showed a little boy in a cowboy costume clamouring for someone to “get him out” of the jail he’s made behind a chair.

Johnson’s Glo-Coat commercials actually looked something like this. It’s corny, to say the least. We’ll go with the Draper version any day.



(Video: MiscVideos78rpm/YouTube)

(All images: Mad Men AMC/Business Insider)

Read: The Spoofer’s Guide to Talking About TV Shows >

Read: Really Mad Men: new pictures reveal lots of sour pusses for the new season >

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Business Insider
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