It's been almost 18 months since the most recent episode of Mad Men. Do you even remember what happened? Something about a pregnancy and an engagement and financial ruin? With the premiere of the fifth season this Sunday, we have a primer on all the happenings of fledgling ad agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and its employees.
Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce
SCDP came out of the gate strong for an upstart, winning a Clio Award for its Glo Coat floor wax commercial. The company was able to expand the staff and even bring on former Sterling Cooper employee Ken Goscrove as an account executive. But, due to the foibles of some of the firm's partners, SCDP was unable to land certain accounts. Bridges were burned with Honda motorcycles after WW II vet Roger Sterling insulted the Japanese executives in regards to the war. And the deal with North American Aviation was soured after Don Draper forced Pete Campbell to withdraw the bid after he learned that the Defense Department would have to conduct a security clearance on him. He feared that they'd discover his true identity as a military deserter. The worst blow however came when Lucky Strike—a legacy account from Roger's father—decided to leave SCDP for another agency. When the news of that went public, a third of the company's billings jumped ship. Layoffs were a necessity. Lane Pryce came up with a strategy that could keep them afloat for six months until they landed new accounts: The senior partners (Sterling, Cooper, and Draper) had to kick in $100,000 while the junior partners (Pryce and Campbell) had to put up $50,000. In the midst of the bad press following their loss of Lucky Strike, Don decided to "change the conversation" and penned a letter run as a full-page ad in the New York Times about how Lucky Strikes didn't fire them, instead, SCDP decided to quit representing tobacco companies because of the health risks that had been linked to cigarettes. It led to SCDP landing a PSA for the American Cancer Society. It was free work, but the ACS has powerful, rich people on its board, so it opened a huge door of opportunities. Additionally, Peggy Olson managed to break their losing streak by landing the first new account since the Lucky Strike debacle.