Don’s business ethics

 Posted by on April 24, 2009 at 9:57 am  Season 1, Season 2
Apr 242009

Another Season 1/Season 2 parallel:

Season 1, Shoot: Don turns down Jim Hobart at McCann Erickson because he doesn’t like how he does business, it’s not “Big League;” he specifically doesn’t like Hobart using Betty to get to him. It skeeves him.

Season 2, Flight 1: Don doesn’t want to kick out Mohawk Airlines, asks “what kind of company we’re going to be.”

Don is very specific about how business people should and should not treat each other, and this hasn’t changed.

Think of the betrayal: Don refuses to leave Sterling Cooper because he imagines it is more ethical than McCann, and then is forced to be the one to give Mohawk Airlines news he believes is unethical. When you want ethical business guidance, learn some tips from Lee S Rosen Blog.


  11 Responses to “Don’s business ethics”

  1. When Don i being courted by McCann Roger says something about it being a publicly traded company so Don would not be able to fire clients. This of course means that Don would never have been put into the uncomfortable firing Mohawk situation there.

    Does anyone remember if PPL is publicly traded? Will that change in the business effect season 3?

  2. The was also the question of taking Roger's office after the heart attack. Don floated the notion that he would take it, just to rub it in Pete's face. But I don't think he was ever seriously considering it. Indeed, while Don comments that he would leave it for Roger's "replacement," Duck didn't get that office either. Despite the events of "Red in the Face," Don clearly wanted to ensure that, as long as there was a chance Roger could return, he would return to his former status/office.

  3. I am struck by how almost idealistic Don is about business, the opposite of The Godfather's "it's not personal, it's business" mantra almost. Even when he says "IT's business" to Roger in "Shoot," I don't think he means it, and neither does Roger. He replies kind of knowingly, "Is it?"

    It puzzles me that he is so "ethical" in business (aside from his relationship with Rachel, which was kind of both worlds colliding) and yet with others and even concerning his basic identity he is so deeply dishonest (and yet, does he necessarily have a "deep lack of character" like he says Pete has?). With his wife, with women with whom he is intimate, he lies. With businessmen, he is Mr. Clean. Even when he's angry at Duck he isn't sneaky like Pete. Why? Does it have to do with the fact that he's dealing with men, and women can be lied to and manipulated? The man clearly is having a crisis of conscience, but it's weird that he's not a weasel everywhere like Pete seems to be. (I know some people think Pete is deep-down a good person, and I can see that, but I think he's on the surface an all-around cad.)

    I would also like to point out that scene in the elevator when two young men are talking about really gross stuff in front of a lady, and Don tells them to remove their hats. It's yet another area where Don seems to be like the knight Rachel imagined him to be, but when I first saw it, I wondered if it was showing his deep-down goodness, or if it was just his shallow, outward show of good-guy-ness that totally belies how he uses women, albeit discreetly. It's not so much to do with business ethics, I guess, as his general character.

    • I think part of the reason I root for Don, and forgive him his bad behavior, is precisely because he is basically a good and moral person. Isn't that exactly why he can't stand to look in the mirror? Because he knows that how he behaves towards his wife is wrong and it's unbearable to look at it squarely.

  4. If Don was as ethical in his "personal" life as much as he as at "work" he might be just as successful at it. He's more concerned about what kind of company Sterling-Cooper is, than the kind of man he is.

  5. While I don't really like the fact that Don isn't wholly ethical in all parts of his life, I guess that is a positive in a way?

    I mean, the fact that he isn't entirely good nor entirely bad is why we love him, right?

  6. "I mean, the fact that he isn’t entirely good nor entirely bad is why we love him, right?"

    And indeed is part of what makes this show so much better than your network dramas. This is a major reason why there have been so many interesting shows in the last decade, the fact that writers/showrunners no longer feel the need to completely distinguish between the 'good' and 'bad' characters, and that makes for a much more immersive experience, because you truly don't know what could happen next. Don Draper is not a wholly good or bad person, because most people aren't wholly good or bad. Just like the cops on The Wire aren't balck and white caricatures of justice, and just like Tony Soprano isn't a carbon copy of a mobster.

    It kind of amazes me that this trend took so long to come to fruition in television. It also makes me feel a little bit better about society, knowing that we actually can understand subltely and ambiguity when talked to like adults.

  7. *subtlety. I'm pretty sure subltely isn't a word.

  8. @Barbie, I liken Don's ethics in business to the Mafia characters in The Godfather who attended mass. Their lives were amoral, and yet they observed the rituals of the church — and probably saw no conflict whatsoever.

    Don wants rules so that he can break them, but he expects others to follow them. Being a Leo, I get this. (Do we know when Don's birthday is?)

  9. I think part of the reason I root for Don, and forgive him his bad behavior, is precisely because he is basically a good and moral person. Isn’t that exactly why he can’t stand to look in the mirror?

    Once again, Don represents the American experience, and America as a metaphor. America: about whom Winston Churchill once observerd, "can always be counted on to do the right thing … once all other options have been exhausted." Pretty much sums it up.

  10. If Don was really this idealistic when it came to business ethnics, he really should not be involved in the business aspects of Sterling Cooper. He would be out of his depth.

    And yet, when it came to his personal life . . .

    Perhaps Brenda was right to compare Don's ethnics to the Mafia characters in THE GODFATHER.

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