Man’s Best Friend

 Posted by on December 11, 2009 at 8:59 am  Season 3
Dec 112009

During the dog food focus group Sterling Cooper stages for Caldecott Farms in The Gypsy and the Hobo, Peggy says an interesting thing.  When asked why the man conducting the interviews with the test subjects isn’t wearing a lab coat, she states that dogs “don’t like uniforms.”

There had to be some other significance to the remark.  I’m sure that Peggy wasn’t citing a real 1960’s study which demonstrated that canines had an adverse reaction to uniforms.  Okay, maybe she was.  But it seems like more than a passing remark.

Following Peggy’s comment, there’s a quick exchange between Don and Smitty which establishes that, when describing some object (in this case their dog), people in focus groups are really describing themselves.  So, in effect Peggy was saying that people don’t like uniforms.

This could refer to to Don and Roger.  Outwardly, they both seem proud of their military experience.  But Don only signed up to get away from an unhappy home and bailed the first chance he got.  And, according to Annabelle Mathis, Roger was in the process of finding himself when the war forced him into another direction.  So, one could argue that neither of them TRULY liked their uniforms.

Read a different way, this may be foreshadowing of what will soon be the general rejection by protesters over the “establishment.” One of the focus group participants even says “when people protest, I’m on board.”  Often, that unrest took the form of railing against those in uniform such as soldiers and the police.  In Mad Men‘s universe, these events will soon be televised nightly into everyone’s living rooms.  Many will react like Don at the Caldecott Farms focus group and just want someone to turn the damn thing off.


  5 Responses to “Man’s Best Friend”

  1. I just assumed she was referring to how dogs often bark at and don't like mailmen, service people, etc coming to the door because they're a threat on their domain. Now I wonder if there was a study, and I like the *idea* that when Peggy says that she is really saying people don't like uniforms, but in application I don't think the idea is universal. I think there are uniforms that elicit a positive reaction and those that elicit a negative reaction… and that association would even differ based on age, gender, socio-economic background, geography, race, etc. Anyone a trained sociologist?

  2. Really interesting!

  3. I'm not sure I buy the notion that dogs don't like uniformed people.

    I remember a dog who I encountered six afternoons a week for at least two years, when I had a paper route in the early 60s. That pooch would bark and raise all manner of hell with me, every time I showed up (and I never wore a uniform). I think it's just that most dogs aren't too keen on strangers hanging about, uniformed or not.

    And now, here's a YouTube clip…

    It starts with a sponsor "billboard" for the open of "Bewitched," voiced by Gary Owens (later, of Laugh-In fame). I'm not sure who the announcer in the filmed Ken-L-Ration spot is.

    And, does anybody remember Gaines Burgers?

  4. I'm with Amy – I assumed t was a reference to the "dogs chase postmen" thing.

  5. Interesting. I am sort of in the Melissa and Amy camp, and I also assumed the "uniform" of wearing a lab coat is waaay to close to a vet's coat and as those of us with pets know, they rarely, like going to the vet, no matter how nice said vet is. I think the really hit the nail on the head at how much people identify with their dogs and you could be right to some degree about people projecting their emotions of not liking uniforms to their dogs, but I always had the impression that until Viet-nam got hot and heavy most people really respected a man in a military uniform and they often still do; I worked with a Major about 4 years ago who did not wear his uniform to work but put it on when he arrived and took it off before leaving for the day. On one occasion when he had to pick his son up at the airport, drop him off and come back to the office, he changed out of his uniform before going to get the boy, then when he got back he changed back into it. I was confused and assumed when I saw him take off the uniform he was leaving for the day so I was suprised to see him again later, so I had to ask, why'd he do it? Because he said people always get a little nutty when they see a uniform and they want to stop and talk to him and ask him questions, talk about their service, etc etc, which is kind of a pain especially when you are in a hurry. He was a terribly nice man so I'm sure that he got sucked into many an unwanted conversation when wearing his uniform in the general public. On the one occasion when he and I were out in public and he wasin uniform, I noticed he got lots and lots of attention.

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