Winners and Losers

 Posted by on May 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm  Characters, Mad Men, Season 1, Season 6
May 182013

Everyone who’s worked in a company that has gone through a merger knows the drill. It’s like when a young couple decides to move in together and combine two households. Everything that is duplicated – television, sofa, salad spinner – is at risk. Which TV has the bigger screen? Which sofa

Is Pete headed for a fall?

Is Pete headed for a fall?

is more comfortable? Whose salad spinner achieves higher RPM? In theory the decision on what to keep is based on quality, but other factors come into play, most usually there is:
Emotion: is there an heirloom? Grandma’s bed may have to stay. The cat your ex- gave you? Not so sure.
Power: are the deciders on truly equal footing, or does one hold more sway?

And so it goes with people. Based on what we know about quality of work, emotional favorites and power in the merger decision, who is going to prosper in the days to come, and who may find themselves holding the short end of the stick? Here are some ideas:

Frank Gleason: he’s already revealed he has cancer and he is on the way out. He’s a Creative and leaves an opening.

Burt Peterson: Draw a chalk circle around him.

Margie: She called her own demise. They don’t need two “woman’s angle” creatives.

Bert Cooper: increasingly out of touch (“spirits of elderflower” “asperine”?) with the times, it may be too crowded at the top for him to remain. Loses power.

Ted Chough and Don Draper: the old Spanish saying “A él que parte y reparte, le toca la mejor parte” means “He who does the dividing gets the best part” and will come into play. Don and Ted will fight for senior creative but both are safe as principals in the merger. Ted can’t figure Don out, does Don even think about Ted?

Roger Sterling: earlier Roger seemed an unnecessary appendage, drinking and cracking wise. But he was instrumental in unearthing the Chevy lead, and as he reminds Pete “I close. That’s what I do.” Uncertain future.

Jim Cutler: Roger’s doppelganger – will the town be large enough for the both of them? I think he’s the stained sofa — garage sale.

Joan Harris: We don’t know who her counterpart is at CGC, but we saw that her books were impeccable and she has the support of SC&D. Expect her to rule the roost.

Harry Crane: It was thinking about Harry that got me started on this. He’s played the “I’ll walk if I don’t get partner” card, and the merger makes any new partnerships highly unlikely. He lost political support in needless confrontations with Joan (over her partnership) and Pete (the King assassination’s impact on the work day). Bert was privy to both, and Bert likes a peaceful, professional environment. If CGC has any kind of a good TV man, Harry’s on a banana peel.

Peggy Olson: As the only person who has worked in both companies, Peggy has a huge advantage. And no one at SCDP filled the void she left. If she can stand the disappointment of failing to reach escape velocity from Don’s influence, she stands to gain the most of all. We already see her speaking from power to Don: “Move forward.”

And that leaves Pete Campbell: For a man who once wondered, “Why can’t I get everything good all at once?” he seems to be getting everything bad all at once. Trudy discovered his cheating within her territorial waters and threw him out. He was spotted in the “party house” by Trudy’s father, who then pulled his Vicks account from the agency. Furious at the loss of Jaguar, he made a comic scene in the office and proceeded to attack Don’s impetuous decision right before Chevy came in and made it look like a master stroke. Now, in Man With a Plan, Pete’s mother requires constant care, he can’t get a seat at the table, it is all causing him more worries.

Pete is not heeding Roger’s advice to show eternal gratitude to Don for saving his job in season one, and now he may find himself on the outs with all three of the principles. He once asked “Why do they get to decide what’s going to happen?” but he hasn’t seemed to remember Harry’s reply: “They just do.”



  24 Responses to “Winners and Losers”

  1. Bravo! Nice post and analysis.

    As far as creatives….

    Beanie and Cecil are most likely out.

    Ginzo and Stan should be just fine. I think that Gleason is the partner who is also the art director for CGC, so Stan will fill his shoes, but not partnership.

    As far as secretarial staff…

    Scarlet might be out, but Dawn and her counterpart, Moira, are probably fine. If Pete goes then maybe that’s the last we see of Clara.

    Meredith probably stays, if only for my selfish hope that Joan throws another airplane (or something bigger) at her head.

    I also think that maybe “SCDP-CGC whatevertheycallit” opens a west coast office and Harry is exiled to SoCal to run the operation, but not as a partner. I think Harry will do almost anything for extra money and a chance to get away from Jennifer, Beatrice and the twins.

  2. Regarding Pete…..he knows Don’s secret and will use it if he feels threatened. He totally feels threatened at this point.

  3. Good work Jim B! I wish I could believe that “Hi… Bob Benson and I’m damn glad to meet ya” was a loser; but, after Joanie saved his posterior last week, I’m more convinced than ever that he is going to play a pivotal part in Season 6.

    • Oh…. I forgot. If Harry Crane does not end up on the West Coast in some capacity; at least ninety percent of Basketcases will be stunned.

  4. The whole purpose of SCDP and CGC merging was to have enough staff to handle the Chevy business. In reality of two such ad shops merging in 1968 hardly anyone would have been laid-off or fired.

    It made a cute joke firing Burt Peterson for a second time, but with the combined business, all account executives would be vital holding client’s hands while it was being decided which clients were in conflict.

    Also, all the creatives would be needed, especially with Frank Gleason on his death bed.

    But this is Mad Men Logic and a TV series can only support so many speaking parts. Marie Calvet said “The World cannot support all those ballerinas”.

    • I’m glad you brought that up because the whole time I thought, “weren’t they supposed to merge to have a huge company, instead of another company roughly the size of SCDP?”

      • I imagine both can be true. If both agencies have 50 people and they need to be at 80 to handle Chevy, the merger gives them the size, and still some are possibly redundant.

        • Ad shops are not like most businesses. As I pointed out, at least in the short term account executives need to maintain relationships with all the clients until it can be decided which clients must be dropped due to conflicts with larger clients. Perhaps Burt Peterson could be fired because he had no clients.

          Where ad agencies merging historically did reduce staff almost immediately was in the business and accounting departments.

          Again as I say, Mad Men is fiction and to remain within budget some characters need to be written out. “Margie Koch” played by Tracy Silver never had much to do. Probably in an actual merger there would be enough work for both Peggy and Margie.

    • Burt Peterson said his clients would leave with him. Unless he was just mouthing off.

  5. Spot on about Harry! Moving ahead in a company so often has little to do with what you deserve, and much to do with your connections within. In the end, it’s what you can do for your team(company) and not about what your team “owes” you. Harry’s played the ungrateful entitled d**chbag card with so many people, that even if he DID deserve a partnership, he’d be blocked for the sheer pleasure of it.

    Not even Lucille Ball dancing the Charleston on the boardroom table while Desi bangs on a bongo can help him now.

    • And with the paucity of commercial time in the week following RFK’s assassination, he’ll be more exposed than ever. (Each of the networks averaged 40+ hours of time that week on that story alone.)

      Ironic, for Harry: just when everyone is watching TV, he can’t sell anything to them.

  6. How about Moira, Ted’s secretary? While she may not be Joan’s equal in title…I predict power struggles with these two.

    • What were do you see the problem? Wouldn’t Moira be equivalent to Roger’s secretary? Joan doesn’t seem to have power struggles with the other secretaries. They don’t always respect her/try to get one over on her, like when Scarlett tried to leave early. I think that’s different from what you’re talking about.

      • Moira was quite pushy with Joan: “I need a copy of the schedule for Mr. Chaough,” et cetera, at the very busiest time in the office. Joan was not amused.

        I too see some power struggles ahead for these two — at least in part because Moira seems to have no sense of Joan’s home-court advantage.

        • I think in that scene, after Joan delegates the work to Moira, “I hope you can read my handwriting”, she actually calls her “Meera”. accident? I think not.

    • As a partner and and a huge workload, why doesn’t Joan have a secretary? Will Moira end up in that position?
      Perfect choice of drink for Bert – “elder” berry.

      • It would be if Peggy gave that advice to Joan. I could see it happening if both Peggy and Joan were working late. They run into each other in the kitchen, or some other part of the office. Joan makes a comment about her workload. Peggy suggests to Joan that she hire a secretary. Peggy’s line would be something like “Sounds like you could use a secretary.” That gets Joan thinking.

        • I meant to type, it would be great if Peggy gave that advice/suggestion to Joan.

      • I cannot imagine a harder job than being Joan’s secretary, constantly having your boss measure you against her own perfection.

        • Reminds me of Murphy Brown, there could be a new one each week. Jim Parsons could be the first.

        • Which may be why Joan dosn’t have one. No one can do the job as well as she can. She has high standards, and knows that no one is capable of meeting them.

    • I tend to think, regarding the ladies in the steno pool, that their fates will derive from those of the account, creative and media folks they work for. If your boss survives, you survive. If he doesn’t, goodbye.

      While there’s plenty of redundancy to be chopped in middle-management, it’s still a one-secretary/one-boss world. It would be some years until computers and automation would make it possible for one assistant to service several execs.

  7. “The cat your ex- gave you? Not so sure.”

    Hmmmm – might be deal-breaker there.

    I saw a great bumper sticker the other day

    “If my dog doesn’t like you, then I don’t like like you either”

    A test before she (or you) moves in (out). Will the cat come around when she’s over?

    It’s interesting that folks seem to admit not liking cats more than not liking dogs.

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