Jul 072008

We’ve talked about it in here, and they talk about it more in the ‘best of’… how Pete really does have a nose for the future. He consistently either has or recognizes a great idea. Only no one knows it but him. And, well, us, because of how we know how it turns out.

In the pilot, he suggests the ‘death wish’ idea that Don had vehemently dismissed, and everyone is horrified. But really, what do we think the symbolism behind Marlboro Country is?

He pitches the very excellent Bethlehem Steel tagline, the Backbone of America.

During a discussion about how to angle Israel tourism, Pete says, “Maybe we should try and exploit the danger, instead of fighting it. Travel as adventure.” This idea, while not being actively shot down by Don, was skimmed over.

He was the only one who liked the Volkswagen ad, which pissed everyone off. He recognizes the hip factor of Kennedy, calling him Elvis. The way I saw that, he wasn’t comparing the people, but the potential (and eventual) phenomenon of Kennedy to that of Elvis.


There is a shot of Peggy saying to Don, “Sex sells”, and Don saying, “Says who?” which is of course, unfathomable.

But it’s been said before that Peggy and Pete are paralleled in that they are the voice of youth, of the future.

And Don, he just has no interest in that listening to that voice.


  13 Responses to “Pete thinks different, Don thinks the same”

  1. I think it's interesting that none of Don's ads we see on the show are really "sexy", maybe with the exception of his Gilette tag line (since Peggy came up with Mark your Man). Really his ideas are all about comforting people, aren't they? Taking them to safe places and telling them it will all be okay (It's Toasted, the Carousel, etc). I guess because that's what he himself wants? Another reflection of his disconnected life?

  2. That is interesting. And though the Gillette line is sexy, it's also a reflection of how disconnected he is… men go their whole lives without that revelation (that what women want is any excuse to get closer) and yet there he is, pushing them away.

  3. Don also thought up that banking ad, about men's "complicated" lives (even though it was Paul who pitched it. Not sexy, but not comforting.

  4. Pete's problem with the death wish pitch had more to do with his poor people skills. He should have seen that he would lose them at the key point.

    Smoking is Dangerous!

    Is not! 🙂

    A pitch can be brilliant, but worthless if the client doesn't have Jesus in his heart. Something like that.

  5. Ha ha!

    There is no question, part of Pete's problem is that he's forward-thinking in an old-fashioned minded agency, but even that gets lost because he's so bad with gauging his presentations. I'm picturing Don saying to Peggy (and I'm probably making this up, pulling it from projection rather than memory), Let's give your way a try. I am not able to picture Don saying that to Pete.

  6. Yeah, he's just smug and self-satisfied and he doesn't understand people. Which is sad, because he IS smart and he DOES get the trends and the way to sell. He should NEVER pitch, though.

  7. I love this blog and have been lurking for months!
    I also noticed on rewatching that Helen Bishop owns a Volkswagen which the male neighbors mock at Sally's birthday party. And Helen volunteers for Kennedy. In addition to being divorced and working, her choices make her the embodiment of the future that the ad guys aside from Pete don't understand.

  8. Absolutely. She also wears pants, her hair is less coifed, and in general, she seems more like Midge than like a suburban mom of 1960.

  9. And she *walks.* Where does she go? And that John Kennedy….

  10. And wouldn't the comfort thing be especially important to Don, because of his difficult family background and escape from that and all the insecurities he has around his secret identity, but also the general period he grew up in; Depression, WWII, then serving in Korea. He craves comfort, and for everything to be ok, and probably for things to stay within the limits he's familiar with. He might feel like he's had enough change.

    Pete is coming from a completely different place. He's wealthy, and he's that bit younger. He hasn't had those experiences – nor have any of the other younger men at Sterling Cooper, and this is another thing that divides them from Don and Roger.

    I'm sure it's right that Don is nicer to Peggy partly because he doesn't feel that she's a direct threat to him, but I think there are other issues there. Definitely he's using her to get back at Pete when he promotes her to copywriter, but I think there's something in her that he respects and identifies with, almost regardless of gender. They've both seen the other at vulnerable points, with some of the day to day office pretence stripped away, and both stay aloof from most of the male/female office activities that go on. So in some ways they are similar. And by the end of the season, they both have good reason to be wary of Pete.

  11. The 1950s were a decade of comfort. People wanted something soothing after all the pain of WWII. Americans needed to know that everything was going to be okay. The 1960s were a decade of change. The younger generation was more open to new ideas, new music, new everything.

    Don is nicer to Peggy because he doesn’t see her as an equal. She’s a woman, and poses no threat to him. He can’t envision competing with Peggy for a job. However, he is will aware that Pete wants to advance, and as another man, could. Pete poses a direct threat to Don.

  12. Pete is certainly forward thinking and can spot trends, but he doesn't really understand how to sell his ideas. His sense of entitlement interferes with his pitch. He thinks people should listen to him merely because HE said it — it's an idea that came from HIM — not because it has any relevance to them or their issues. Even if what he proposes is the correct approach, no one will ever listen to Pete because it's always about Pete.

    Don understands something that no one else on the show seems to know, and that's how to make the issue relevant to other people. He knows what the "unique selling proposition" is — what emotional triggers to use to get people to respond in the way that he wants them. "It's not why should people smoke," as Don said, "it's why should they smoke Lucky Strike." Don knows how to make it personal.

  13. It's not just that Pete is entitled… it's that he's visibly angry about not getting enough attention. There is an underlying You people aren't going to like my ideas anyway tone to most everything he suggests.

    I've met a lot of people like that; their insecurity is continually self-fulfilling. They sit there with their arms crossed and a glare or a too-big smile, 'secretly' pre-hurt and angry that nobody ever likes or includes them, even though you haven't had the chance to get to know and not like them, or if you have, you don't like or want to include them because, well, they're visibly angry and needy.

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