Viewers of Mad Men are familiar with the compromises required by a career in advertising: kowtowing to difficult performers (and their wives), relationship-straining hours, the possibility of losing your nice office to a weaselly account man. Until the latest episode, however, the show hadn’t portrayed an employee trading sex for the acquisition of a new client. (Well, there was the Utz thing with Bobbie Barrett, but let’s not get into it now.) Now that the barrier has been breached — in a story line revolving around an actual, extant company — Advertising Age has sought comment from the client in fictional question, yielding a surprisingly equanimous response.
David Pryor, Jaguar USA’s VP of brand development, said of the episode, “I’m a big fan of the show and it was gratifying to see our brand portrayed . I would say we were fairly surprised at the turn of events.”
Ad Age reports (as one might imagine, given what occurred) that Jaguar has had no input in the show’s portrayal of the brand across several episodes this season, and Pryor concedes, “Obviously it was kind of tainted with the story line.” Ha-ha, yeah, “kind of.” And while Pryor doesn’t go so far as to assert that the show’s lascivious Herb Rennet is not representative of Jaguar dealers in 2012 (or 1967, for that matter), he adds, “We would agree with Don’s position that the best creative should win, not something that was less than above-board.”
As for the creative itself — which positioned a Jaguar as the automotive equivalent of a free-spirited mistress — Pryor’s onboard. “One connection I liked was, they went down this emotional path. They weren’t trying to sell the car, they were building on this emotional connection, this love, this lust that people had for the brand back then and that we’re trying to recreate now.” “Lust”? If this is how Jaguar regards its customers, no wonder its executive doesn’t have much of a problem with the episode.