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If you've been keeping up with Mad Men this season, you know the big account that's been dangled in front of SCDP's nose is Jaguar, the luxury car company whose business would announce to the world that the firm was a real player. (Not that Secor Laxatives hasn't done its part, too.) Like Kodak, Mohawk Airlines, and other real companies used in the show, Jaguar didn't court Mad Men's attention, which means they must appreciate the free publicity. On the other hand, they also didn't get any say in how the brand was represented — and if you watched this Sunday's episode, you can see how that might have suddenly become an issue. (Spoilers to follow.)
With a second chance at nabbing Jaguar, the partners of SCDP are asked to consider a shocking and deeply disgusting proposition: could they literally pimp out their bombshell Director of Agency Operations Joan Harris in exchange for a much better shot at scoring the account? It was gross all around, as nobody was on their best behavior. And while Pete Campbell probably comes off the worst of the regulars for spearheading the unsavory operation, at least we didn't have to watch him seduce a clearly devastated (if game-faced) Joan. In the end, SCDP wins the day with a spectacular (though also gross) campaign, but a severely tainted company soul.
But, it turns out, the company didn't mind the shocking plot turn or the representation of the company (which, in truth, was only one guy in the company). David Pryor, the VP of brand development for JaguarUSA, had this to say to AdAge:
I'm a big fan of the show and it was gratifying to see our brand portrayed. I would say we were fairly surprised at the turn of events...
Obviously it was kind of tainted ... with the storyline. We would agree with Don's position that the best creative should win, not something that was less than above-board. At the end of the day, though, we're confident that people know it's a fictional character.
That might be putting too much faith in the viewing public, but I doubt many potential Jaguar owners will be swayed by the negative associations created by a fake executive from 1967 in a show watched by around three million people.
But I would still bet money that Mr. Pryor wishes he got a carousel speech of his very own.