Plates of shrimp cocktail can be seen on the table during Sterling, Draper, and Campbell's meeting with Rachel Menken. The ad men's ineptitude in relating to their Jewish client extends even to their non-kosher food selection.
Music: "Band of Gold" (Don Cherry,) "Caravan" (Gordon Jenkins,) "Shangri-La" (Robert Maxwell and His Orchestra,) "The Street Where You Live" (Vic Damone).
The favored type of music for this era was called "Easy Listening." It featured orchestrations emphasizing string instruments, as well as the piano or the organ, and often had rhythms suitable for dancing. Among the best known artists of the era were Montovani, Ferrante and Teicher, The Living Strings, and of course, Lawrence Welk. There were some vocalists, such as Edie Gorme, Vic Damone and Andy Williams who fit the genre, but most vocals came from groups of singers who accompanied the orchestra, such as the Ray Conniff Singers.
"The Street Where You Live" is from the musical My Fair Lady. In March, 1960, when this episode is set, My Fair Lady would have been entering its fourth year on Broadway, where it eventually ran for 2,717 performances, the longest running musical of its time. Use of this song is a reflection of the popularity of music coming from Broadway; film version would not be produced for another four years.
The program makes a small historical error in the scene where Peggy first sees her typewriter, an IBM Selectric II. The IBM Selectric Typewriter featuring a ball-element, that made the type bar and moving platen unnecessary was first released in 1961. The first Selectric II, which Joan assures Peggy is so easy a woman can use it, was not released until 1971. Later in the episode, Don comments about the availability of a "magic machine" that makes identical copies of documents. Although Xerox had released its first photocopier in late 1959, it probably would not have been widely available and probably not well known in March, 1960, when this episode is set.
The bolded part needs to be taken out. When Don mentions the "magic machine", the writers were being ironic because he says, "It's not like there's some magic machine that makes identical copies of things." So, clearly, Don has no idea that Xerox exists yet, and there's no time period goof that needs mentioning here.
Peggy is given a prescription for the contraceptive Enovid by the doctor Joan refers her to in this episode. At the time, she would have needed to know a doctor willing to prescribe them for that purpose, for which they had not yet been approved. Birth control was a highly controversial subject at the time, and it was difficult for researchers to obtain funding needed to develop safe and effective methods of contraception.
Enovid, developed by Searle Laboratories, was the first oral contraceptive approved by the FDA. In 1959, Enovid had been extensively tested as a birth control pill, but was only approved for relief of "menstrual disorders." Not surprisingly, by the end of the year over 1/2 million American women had 'developed' these disorders and were taking Enovid off-label for contraceptive purposes. Enovid was finally approved by the FDA as an oral contraceptive in May, 1960.
The Pilot, when Peggy gets the prescription takes place in May 1960.
The heavy smoking seen in this episode is striking by today's standards, but appropriate to the period. Cigarette smoking, although common before the war, became widely accepted for both genders in the post-WWII era when millions of American men who learned to smoke courtesy of cigarettes placed in Red Cross care packages returned home. By the mid 50's, over half of all men and nearly 1/3 of women smoked, and there were few, if any restrictions on where they could do so.
In the mid-50s, cigarette manufacturers were prohibited from making health claims, such as benefits to the figure advertised by L&M. By 1960, health warnings about the dangers of smoking had begun to circulate, most notably the Reader's Digest article "The Growing Horror of Lung Cancer", and nearly 7000 empirical articles linking smoking to a range of pulmonary diseases including cancer had been published in the medical literature, presenting advertisers with the problem we see Don tackle.
As the men enter the elevator, they all take their hats off. Men regularly took their hats off when they came indoors, but also when there was a woman in attendance. Either reason would've been appropriate for the time.
In the doctor's office scene, we see the doctor do a pelvic exam with no nurse in attendance. This is now standard operating procedure, but not as common at the time of this episode.
Don's office is shown to us and is clearly a corner office. The corner office is often the prime office space in a company. Most often, it's a bigger office with more windows for better views of the city, a perk for an executive.
Midge mentions that she's working on a newly invented "Grandmothers' Day" job. Actually, in 1978 President Carter designated Grandparents' Day to be celebrated the first Sunday after Labor Day.
This does, however, represent advertising's influence in promoting new holidays. The greeting card business is extremely profitable.
Menken's Department Store, for whom Sterling Cooper builds its poorly received ad campaign, is probably modeled on Bergdorf Goodman, a high-end New York department store facing a major slump as it entered the 1960's. The store, which marketed itself to wealthy New Yorkers, struggled through the 1960's and 70's until it reinvented itself in the mid-80's. Now owned by Neiman-Marcus, it remains open on New York's Fifth Ave. to this day.
Among the recommendations for advertising Menken's Department Store was a spot advertisement on the "Danny Thomas Show". "The Danny Thomas Show" (later "Make Room for Daddy") was one of a number of comedies focused on traditional middle-class family life popular in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Choice of that particular show, along with the use of in-store coupons, was part of Sterling Cooper's efforts to market the upscale store to the average housewife.
In several scenes, we hear Polynesian-themed music and see Polynesian motifs, most notably in the scene where Don meets Maggie for a drink. Following Hawaii's admission to the union in August, 1959, America's burgeoning post-war interest in Hawaiian music, food and drinks flourished and spread east. This led to the popularization of such iconic drinks as the mai-tai we see Maggie drinking, and the pu-pu platter carried by the waiter, as famous west-coast "tiki" bar/restaurants such as Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic's saw tremendous growth in business, and numerous immitators.
Near the end of the episode, we see Don on a train going home. He disembarks at the Ossining, NY station. Typically, although young single men lived in Manhattan, married businessmen of this era worked in New York City, but lived in the suburbs of upstate New York or Connecticut, commuting to the city on the train.
In this pilot episode, the creator Matthew Weiner reinvents how the slogan for Lucky Strike cigarettes was invented. Originally, the slogan "It's Toasted" appeared in 1917, not in 1960.
Pete: Of course I love you. I'm giving up my life to be with you.
Don: We should get married.
Midge: You think I'd make a good ex-wife?
Don Draper: Advertising is based on one thing, happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It's freedom from fear. It's a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay.
Don Draper: Fear stimulates my imagination.
Don Draper: What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.
Pete: You look like a hundred bucks. Ready to go sweet talk some retail Jews?
Joan: He may act like he wants a secretary, but most of the time they're looking for something between a mother and a waitress.
This episode won the 2008 DGA Award for "Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series' - Night".
This episode was included on the 2008 Emmy Awards 'For Your Consideration' DVD. The episode ended up being nominated for "Outstanding Cinematography For A One Hour Series", "Outstanding Costumes For A Series", "Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series", "Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series" and "Outstanding Art Direction For A Single-camera Series". It later won 3 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series, Outstanding Cinematography for a One-Hour Series and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.
This episode was nominated for a 2008 Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing in Television: Short Form – Dialogue and Automated Dialogue Replacement.
Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey signed on to be a major advertiser in the series. The drink will be incorporated by name in one episode and be seen in two others.
The show was originally pitched to HBO before it was picked up by AMC.
The majority of the work on this episode was done by Sopranos crew members, including Alan Taylor, cinematographer Phil Abraham, and producer Scott Hornbacher.
This episode was shot during Matthew Weiner's 3-month hiatus on the final season of The Sopranos.
The script of this episode, which Matthew Weiner wrote while on the writing staff of Becker, is what prompted David Chase to hire him for The Sopranos.
(Salvatore walks in while Don's flexing his muscles)
Salvatore: Look at you, Gidget. Still trying to fill out that bikini?
Don: Summer's coming.
Frances "Gidget" Lawrence was a fictional character popular in the late 50's and early 60's. First introduced in a 1957 novel written by Frederick Kohner, Gidget and her faithful boyfriend Moondoggie were the embodiment of the southern California surf culture of the day. Gidget was first played on screen by Sandra Dee in 1959, but to most Americans, the seminal Gidget was Oscar-winner Sally Field, who played her in the 1965 television sitcom.
The coil device Don was using was designed to develop men's pectoral muscles, but was also believed to increase women's bust size, thus the reference to "filling out that bikini." Even the bikini was still fairly novel at the time, it would reach fad proportion later in 1960 following the release of Brian Hyland's "Itsy-Bitsy Teeny-Weeny Yellow Polka-dot Bikini."
(Salvatore's drawing for the pitch to the tobacco client)
This is clearly intended to reflect the advertising campaign of Marlboro cigarette's, "The Marlboro Man." The popular "man's man/ladies' man" type of advertising was extremely successful.
The blonde stripper in the bachelor party scene is wearing a strapless, pink evening dress and long gloves. This look is very reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe's look singing "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend", in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Joan: (as she tells Peggy how to negotiate the male/female relationships in the office) ...Of course, if you really make the right moves, you'll be out in the country and won't have to work at all.
Although a very small percentage of young New York women of the 1950's aimed for education and a career, for most, marriage, a family and the home that came with it, was their principal goal. For some, generally those from at least an upper-middle class background, education was the way to meet the right guy, "earn a Mrs" and a get that house in the country. For less advantaged women, a job in a Manhattan office became their prime husband-hunting ground, where tactics varied from finding to trapping a husband by any means necessary.
Roger Sterling: Have we ever hired any Jews?
Don Draper: Not on my watch.
This exchange introduces the anti-Semitic practices of the New York advertisement business of the late 1950's. Far more overt and tacitly accepted by Jewish New Yorkers, the business world was actively anti-Semitic, as were hotels, mens clubs and other institutions frequented by upper-middle and upper-class New Yorkers. The suburbs were equally anti-Semitic, with "restricted" (i.e. Christian only) housing developments, country clubs and restaurants the norm in many of the bedroom communities in Connecticut and upstate New York.