In Mad Men Episode 6.10: A Tale of Two Cities, Joan has lunch with the new marketing head of Avon. She thinks it’s a date, then realizes it’s a business lunch, and, in typical Joan fashion, quickly changes direction, making it seem as if she knew all along the purpose of the meeting. Andy Hayes (“that guy in that thing” Spencer Garrett) wants Joan to pitch him. Immediately she starts talking about media placement and how to do it intelligently.
Joan knows nothing about being an “account man,” as we’ll learn later in the episode: She flounders at the second meeting with Avon, not knowing what the next steps are. But she knows media placement.
Way back in Episode 2.08: A Night to Remember, Joan worked with Harry on media placement. She was a natural at it. Harry tasked her with avoiding problem placement, and instead she saw the opportunities for clients. Advertising was different, then, and TV was still a nascent market. It was painful for Joan to give up that opportunity, but Joan, too, was different then, and when the job went to a man, she had no complaint. In 1962, Joan didn’t see herself as having career goals: She wanted a husband and expected that would satisfy her. In 1968, she knows differently, and has ambition.
The contrast between S2 Joan and S6 Joan is fascinating. What struck me, though, was her little speech to Andy about media buys. It’s the only part of non-admin client work that she really knows well. It’s the only part she’s experienced in. So naturally, it’s her go-to when she has to impress someone out of the blue. And Harry–who publicly called her a whore a mere 5 months (and 6 episodes) ago, who is the person who didn’t understand the media job, and then took it away from her, in the first place–Harry gets lavish praise from Joan, who tells Andy he’s a “genius.”