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With Mad Men’s recent departure from Netflix, we’ve decided to revisit the iconic series and take a look back at every single pitch across all 7 seasons and 92 episodes.
That’s 27 total pitches where we’ve got vintage Don, drunk Don, scintillating Peggy and more. Disclaimer – it can get a little bit murky sometimes with what to include as an actual ‘pitch’. Here’s where we’ve decided to draw the line:
- Of course, any advertising pitch made to existing or prospective clients
- Any advertising pitch/campaign that appears to have received a final approval but we don’t actually see being delivered to the client
- Any other type of pitch. For example, Don’s sales pitch to Dow Chemical where he makes a strong case to gain their business (because more Don Draper in action is never a bad thing right?)
What isn’t included –
- Any scene where they are discussing ideas/going through a potential version of a pitch in the creative process but it ultimately fails to make the grade. For example, Kinsey’s Mohawk Airlines ad copy to Don – “There’s a new chief in the sky”, “Wherever Mohawk takes us, you’ll love getting there”.
- Commercials. So no Glo-Coat, Patio Diet Cola, Utz etc.
Make sense? If you disagree feel free to let us know why in the comments below!
1. Lucky Strike – “It’s Toasted”
The Episode: “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (Season 1, Episode 1)
The episode where it all began back in July 2007. Truthfully, not one of Don’s greatest pitches but perhaps one of his most important.
Faced with new government restrictions about how tobacco products can be advertised, Sterling Cooper is pulled into a meeting with their biggest client, Lucky Strike, to see how they’ll navigate the waters moving ahead. Much of the episode focuses on Don’s inability to come up with anything compelling at all. Yet, right in the nick of time he manages to find the idea for Lucky Strike’s “It’s Toasted” campaign.
The success lies not in finding the perfect idea but in the realization that they can in fact turn their weakness into a strength.
“This is the greatest advertising opportunity since the invention of cereal. We have six identical companies making six identical products. We can say anything we want.”
“Lucky Strike, it’s toasted”.
The rest as they say is history.
2. Kodak – “The Carousel”
The Episode: “The Wheel” (Season 1, Episode 13)
Certainly up for debate but to many, season 1’s finale “The Wheel”, marked the moment when Mad Men truly arrived. An artist at the height of their powers, a moment of true mastery, in this pitch we see Don disregard the conventional wisdom of showing Kodak’s new product “The Wheel” as a cutting edge, technological marvel. Instead, he strives to create a deeper, more emotional bond beyond ‘new’ as he moves between intimate shots of him, Betty and the kids.
It’s a mesmerizing glimpse into the life of someone who shows little sign of the inner peace and happiness on display. But it doesn’t matter, we can’t help but get pulled right into the moment anyway.
“It’s not called the Wheel, it’s called the Carousel.
It lets us travel the way a child travels. Around and around and back home again to a place where we know we are loved.”
3. Jaguar – “At last, something beautiful you can truly own”
The Episode: “The Other Woman” (Season 5, Episode 11)
Inextricably linked and forever tainted by Joan’s decision, we’ll never know if the Jaguar pitch was good enough to win based purely on merit. But regardless of how you feel about the way things went down in this episode, there’s no denying that the Jaguar pitch is also one of the best we see in the entire show.
Conceived by Ginsberg after much painstaking deliberation by the entire team, the Jaguar pitch is stylish, seductive and everything else you’d want for a high performance sports car.
“But when deep beauty is encountered it arouses deep emotions. Because it creates a desire, because it is by nature unattainable… Oh this car, this thing gentlemen, what price would we pay? What behavior would we forgive? If they weren’t pretty, if they were’t temperamental, if they weren’t beyond our reach and a little out of our control would we love them like we do?
Jaguar – at last, something beautiful you can truly own.”
4. Popsicle – “Take it. Break it. Share it. Love it”
The Episode: “The Mountain King” (Season 2, Episode 12)
With Don awol from the office in this episode, it’s up to the rest of Sterling Cooper to step up in his absence. A major moment for Peggy in her burgeoning career, she grabs the opportunity with both hands to win the Popsicle account.
“When I was little, my mother would take a Twin Pop and break it in half and give one to me and one to my sister.. It’s a ritual. You take it, break it, share it, love it.”
Honing in on the importance of family rituals she strives to give Popsicle a place in every home no matter the occasion.
5. Jantzen – “So Well Built, We Can’t Show You The Second Floor”
The Episode: “Public Relations” (Season 4, Episode 1)
A favorite with fans for all the wrong reasons, this pitch kicks off season 4 with quite disastrous results for the newly created Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP).
As we’ve seen before in Mad Men, Don doesn’t subscribe to the idea that the customer is always right. And with all hands on deck at SCDP he shows exactly that, kicking Jantzen out of the conference room for wasting his time.
Petty? Perhaps. But in terms of the actual pitch (while facing a hugely difficult task with the constraints they’ve given him), it doesn’t come across as his best work either.
“There’s no other way to slice it, you’re getting undressed. What separates a bathing suit from underwear? The cut and print of the cloth and some sort of gentlemen’s agreement.”
Jantzen – “So well built, we can’t show you the second floor.”
6. Life Cereal – “Cure for the Common Breakfast”
The Episode: “Waldorf Stories” (Season 4, Episode 6)
This episode sees SCDP flying high after winning a Clio award for their Glo-Coat commercial. Returning to the office with trophy in hand and the Life Cereal meeting already in progress, Don & co decide to interrupt and take the reins (with a quick victory lap thrown in for good measure).
Diving into almost a parody delivery of the same dialogue seen in “The Carousel” pitch, Don drunkenly blunders his way along to the slogan – “Eat Life by the Bowlful”. It doesn’t go down great with Life Cereal so we get 30 seconds of Don trying to come up with alternatives on the spot, eventually landing on “Cure for the common breakfast” (an idea loosely ‘borrowed’ from a freelancer).
7. Dow Chemical – “But What is Happiness?
The Episode: “Commissions and Fees” (Season 5, Episode 12)
In this tour de force we see Don and Roger come off the defensive (due to Don’s “Why I’m Quitting Tobacco” editorial piece) to launch a biting attack of why Dow Chemical shouldn’t be happy with their current ad agency’s results.
“But what is happiness? It’s a moment before you need more happiness. I won’t settle for 50 percent of anything. I want 100 percent. You’re happy with your agency? You’re not happy with anything. You don’t want most of it…you want all of it. And I won’t stop until you get all of it.”
8. Hershey – “The Currency of Affection. The Childhood Symbol of Love”
The Episode: “In Care Of” (Season 6, Episode 13)
The conclusion of season 6 left viewers with plenty to process as Don’s inner demons finally cracked through his ironclad facade. Of all things, it’s a Hershey bar that turns out to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. We see both prepared pitch and impromptu confession as for once, Don can’t dazzle himself into believing the conjured lie (Hershey seemed to like it plenty though).
“As I ripped it open my father tasseled my hair and forever his love and the chocolate were tied together.. Hershey’s is the currency of affection, the childhood symbol of love.'”
9. Heinz Ketchup – “Pass the Heinz”
The Episode: “To Have and to Hold” (Season 6, Episode 4)
This episode sees Don and Peggy square off for Heinz Ketchup with two very different ideas. Don decides to focus the consumers attention on what they can’t see (any ketchup on food where it’s crying out for some) and leave the rest up to their imagination. It’s a smart pitch but one that’s ultimately a little too cute for the ego-driven execs at Heinz who “at least want to see the bottle”.
“It’s clean. It’s simple. And it’s tantalizingly incomplete. What’s missing? One thing.
Pass the Heinz”
10. Heinz Ketchup – “Heinz. The only Ketchup”
The Episode: “To Have and to Hold” (Season 6, Episode 4)
“If you don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation.” Now that sounds familiar doesn’t it? Don almost allows himself a wry smile as he’s stooping at the door, listening to Peggy use his words to great effect.
In contrast to Don’s more subtle pitch, Peggy blasts Heinz front and center as the only ketchup game in town.
“Heinz. The Only Ketchup”
11. Lucky Strike – “Death Wish”
The Episode: “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (Season 1, Episode 1)
Before Don’s moment of clarity saves the day in the pilot episode, who can forget Pete Campbell offering up his own idea for where they can go with the product. Now, one might think it’s ill-advised to center the theme of your pitch around how “people are going to die anyway, die with us” but not Pete.
Unsurprisingly, this solution doesn’t go down too well with the Lucky Strike folks who refuse to even entertain the idea that their product is dangerous.
“Cars are dangerous. You still have to get where you’re going. Cigarettes are exactly the same.. Smoke your cigarette, you still have to get where you’re going”.
Fortune favors the bold right Pete?
12. Accutron – “It’s not a timepiece. It’s a conversation piece”
The Episode: “Time Zones” (Season 7, Episode 1)
Season 7 kicks off with the camera panning straight into Freddy Rumsen’s face as he asks “Are you ready? Because I want you to pay attention”. He’s definitely not who we expect to see delivering an Accutron pitch (to Peggy) that’s nothing short of outstanding. Peggy is probably left wondering if she chose the wrong mentor all these years!
Of course, in time, we learn that Freddy’s brilliance is actually Don’s brilliance. We see Don has become a marginal figure, relegated to the role of ghostwriter as he continues to pay for his Hershey sins, stuck in some sort of advertising purgatory. As ever though, Don’s genius is still there but so is the chaos, bubbling just beneath the surface.
13. Hilton – “How do you say ice water in Italian? Hilton. It’s the same in every language”
The Episode: “Wee Small Hours” (Season 3, Episode 9)
Over the course of Mad Men, we don’t see Don form many genuine relationships that extend beyond the workplace. Heck, even Roger gets the cold shoulder at one point. So with the introduction of Conrad Hilton, it’s interesting to see someone not only command Don’s full respect professionally but also develop a bond with him on a much more personal level.
It’s this friendship or maybe approval that he’s seeking that perhaps leads Don to produce some of his best overall work. A modern, smart and sophisticated pitch delivered with the full offensive charm usually means one thing – a resounding home run. Yet we see Connie leave the pitch deeply disappointed. When someone tells you they want the moon, you better give it to them.
“Now there’s one word that promises the thrill of international travel with the comfort of home – Hilton. How do you say ice water in italian? Hilton. How do you say hamburger in Japanese? Hilton.
Hilton – it’s the same in every language.”
14. Heinz Beans – “Some Things Never Change”
The Episode: “At the Codfish Ball” (Season 5, Episode 7)
It’s now or never for the SCDP team in this episode after Megan learns that Heinz (beans, not ketchup) plans on parting ways with the firm. With some quick thinking and initiative, her and Don impressively combine to deliver one last pitch. A timeless campaign, starting from prehistoric times and stepping into the future, each scene paints the picture of Heinz beans being served mother to daughter. The slogan itself seems fairly ordinary but considering the situation it’s nothing short of exceptional work from the duo.
Heinz Beans – “Some Things Never Change”
15. Burger Chef – “Family Supper”
The Episode: “Waterloo” (Season 7, Episode 7)
Don and Peggy develop a deep and genuine connection over the years. Mentor and protege, in this episode, Don steps aside with a ringing endorsement, giving Peggy the spotlight to shine as she knocks it out of the park with one of the best pitches we see.
“What if there was another table where everyone gets what they want, where they want it.. And we can have the connection that we’re hungry for. There’s maybe chaos at home but there is family supper at burger chef.”
16. Belle Jolie – “Mark Your Man”
The Episode: “The Hobo Code” (Season 1, Episode 8)
Things escalate real quick after this gem of a pitch (presented by Freddy, conceived by Peggy). After Freddy opens with “E Pluribus unum, from many one”, we get to a blistering Don telling Belle Jolie “Listen, I’m not here to tell you about Jesus”. It’s safe to say Don is a believer that clients get in the way of good work.
“Every women wants choices, but in the end none wants to be one of a hundred in a box. She’s unique, she makes the choices and she’s chosen him. She wants to tell the world he’s mine, he belongs to me not you. She marks her man with her lips, he is her possession.”
17. Playtex – “Nothing fits both sides of a women better than Playtex”
The Episode: “Maidenform” (Season 2, Episode 6)
In a Q&A, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner revealed “Maidenform” to be his favorite episode. Largely taking place over Memorial Day weekend, much of the focus in Sterling Cooper centers around existing client Playtex requesting to see new creative more in line with their competitor Maidenform’s recent “I dreamed” campaign.
Following a rare display of initiative, Paul Kinsey manages to wrangle his way onto the account coming up with a play on there being two sides of a women – Jackie Kennedy or Marilyn Monroe.
“Jackie. Marilyn. Same incredible fit, two different women..
Nothing fits both sides of a woman better than Playtex.”
18. Sheraton – “Hawaii. The Jumping Off Point”
The Episode: “The Doorway, Part 2” (Season 6, Episode 1)
It’s a telling sign that what Don sees as someone entering a new state of consciousness, the client and pretty much everyone else in the room – instead see as someone committing suicide. Slouching back with not even a feigned attempt at interest, Don’s power of persuasion is noticeably missing here making this one of the worst pitches in the entire show.
“Hawaiian legend has it that the soul can go in and out of the body but that it usually leaves from a leeward point, into the waves..
Hawaii, the jumping off point.”
19. Bethlehem Steel – “New York City, brought to to you by Bethlehem Steel”
The Episode: “New Amsterdam” (Season 1, Episode 4)
Still harboring ambitions early in his career to be on the creative side of the house, Pete rather takes the sting out of Don’s Bethlehem Steel pitch.
“Well we take for granted the things we need the most. Water, oil, electricity, steel. I’m thinking about the last time you were here, looking out this window at this incredible city and saying it’s all steel.
New York city, brought you to by Bethlehem steel.”
20. Liberty Capital- “Executive Liberty Account”
The Episode: “5G” (Season 1, Episode 5)
“The modern executive is a busy man. He leads a complicated life, he has business expenses, family, leisure. How are you supposed to keep all that straight? Well, now, Liberty Capital is going to help you with that.”
(Executive Liberty Account)
It’s not hard to deduce the inspiration behind this pitch. A discretionary, private account, with statements that get sent to the office screams Don Draper. And as an ideal target demographic for Liberty Capital it’s no wonder they’re drawn to this campaign.
21. Cool Whip – “Just taste it”
The Episode: “Lady Lazarus” (Season 5, Episode 8)
A far cry from Don and Megan’s combined effort for Heinz, this lackluster pitch for Cool Whip is marked by (stand in) Peggy forgetting her lines.
“You can put it on ice cream and cake and fruit.
So it’s a desert then?
Just try it already, just taste it!”
22. Mohawk Airlines – “What did you bring me, Daddy?”
The Episode: “For Those Who Think Young” (Season 2, Episode 1)
“You are the product. You, feeling something. That’s what sells. Not them. They can’t do what we do and they hate us for it.”
In a true teaching moment, it comes as no surprise that it is Peggy who’s the recipient of Don’s words of wisdom and who he is urging to be better. Technically, we never see this pitch go live with the client but we can safely assume that it makes the grade after he tells her “you can put that in your book.”
“What did you bring me, Daddy?”
23. Phillip Morris Commander Cigarettes
The Episode: “The Runaways” (Season 7, Episode 5)
In this episode, with Cutler and Lou pitching Phillip Morris, it would all but guarantee the end of the road for Don at Sterling Cooper & Partners (they would secure enough revenue to finally be able to buy him out and it would put him in an untenable position after his Anti-smoking letter).
In a true masterclass however, Don steps into the pitch and paints an even better picture of the future. One which would make him an integral part of the account and secure his position moving forward.
“Since my first day on Lucky Strike, the government has been building a scaffold for your whole industry and I found a way to stay that execution in ’60, ’62, ’64 and ’65. I’m also the only cigarette man that sat down with the opposition, they shared their strategy with me and I know how to beat it.
I just keep thinking what your friends at America Tobacco would think if you made me apologize, force me into your service. They are still your competition aren’t they?”
24. Martinson’s Coffee – “Exotic girl, exotic brew, Martinson, Martinson, Martinson – it’s the one for you”
The Episode: “The Gold Violin” (Season 2, Episode 7)
Maybe at some point we can get a Smitty and Kurt standalone series? In this pitch for Martinson’s coffee, the duo present a jingle that’s catchy enough to win the business.
“It’s a song and it’s a mood.”
25. London Fog – “Limit Your Exposure”
The Episode: “Out of Town” (Season 3, Episode 1)
26. Sno Ball – “This Could Change Everything”
The Episode: “Dark Shadows” (Season 5, Episode 9)
27. Sno Ball – “Hit Me In The Face With A Sno Ball”
The Episode: “Dark Shadows” (Season 5, Episode 9)
Pick Your Favorite Pitch
- Lucky Strike – “It’s Toasted”
- Kodak – “The Carousel”
- Jaguar – “At last, something beautiful you can truly own”
- Popsicle – “Take it. Break it. Share it. Love it.
- Jantzen – “So Well Built, We Can’t Show You The Second Floor”
- Life Cereal – “Cure for the Common Breakfast”
- Dow Chemical – “But What is Happiness?
- Hershey – “The Currency of Affection. The Childhood Symbol of Love”
- Heinz Ketchup – “Pass the Heinz”
- Heinz Ketchup – “Heinz. The only Ketchup”
- Lucky Strike – “Death Wish”
- Accutron – “It’s not a timepiece. It’s a conversation piece”
- Hilton – “How do you say ice water in Italian? Hilton. It’s the same in every language”
- Heinz Beans – “Some Things Never Change”
- Burger Chef – “Family Supper”
- Belle Jolie – “Mark Your Man”
- Playtex – “Nothing fits both sides of a women better than Playtex”
- Sheraton – “Hawaii. The Jumping Off Point”
- Bethlehem Steel – “New York City, brought to to you by Bethlehem Steel”
- Liberty Capital- “Executive Liberty Account”
- Cool Whip – “Just taste it”
- Mohawk Airlines – “What did you bring me, Daddy?”
- Phillip Morris Commander Cigarettes
- Martinson’s Coffee
- London Fog – “Limit Your Exposure”
- Sno Ball – “This Could Change Everything”
- Sno Ball – “Hit Me In The Face With A Sno Ball”