A couple of weeks back I reported on the Mad Men ad campaign that is aimed at promoting season 5, beginning March 25. First we heard about the sneak peak video promo and then we got the cryptic poster leaving more questions unanswered than answered. Today, I have learned that the Mad Men publicity campaign has been causing a bit of controversy in NYC because the image of a silhouetted, suited man tumbling through the air, which they have taken from the opening credits of Mad Men, evokes a memory of 9/11 and many New Yorkers are upset and offended by the image.
All of the Mad Men publicity has been deliberately elusive and provocative, much like the show. The stark silhouette posters (which have only the image of the falling man and an air date) are also able to be interpreted in a few different ways. If you know the show, you would recognize the image of falling men from skyscrapers as it is a prominent image from the opening credits of the show. I can appreciate that those who aren’t familiar with the show however may not. The NY Times is reporting though that the campaign is offending many New Yorkers who are seeing the images on the top of cabs and all around the city and for them it brings up images of 9/11. The NY Times and NY Magazine have reported that they have had people write in to them about how they are finding the campaign highly offensive.
“It definitely evokes the memory of 9/11,” a relative of one of the September 11 victims told the Times, “and doesn’t seem to have any connection with the message it is promoting.” AMC insists, “The image used in the campaign is intended to serve as a metaphor for what is happening in Don Draper’s fictional life and in no way references actual events,” but is it hard to believe that no one at the network saw the parallel?
This is a hard one to know what to think. As someone very familiar with the show I instantly recognized the falling man from skyscraper image as a connection to Mad Men’s opening sequence. Thinking about it a bit further though, I can see that for those not familiar with the show, the stark and unexplained image could be seen another way. The Mad Men publicity probably should have foreseen this happening given that the campaign is being shown around New York City and this kind of sensitivity has come up before. Remember the controversy caused by the trailer for Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close? Many New Yorkers were offended by this campaign because the ads for the film showed footage of the burning towers at subway stops surrounding Ground Zero and other areas in Manhattan. While this campaign is less obvious a connection to September 11 I can still actually see the resemblance quite significantly.
What do you think, should the Mad Men producers have foreseen this reaction?