Millions will turn-on and tune-in when Mad Men returns for its 6th season.
AMC is hoping you won’t drop out.
The Beat Goes On
We last left Don Draper and the gang at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce in April of 1967 .
The fissures forming in Don and his wife Megan’s relationship echo the fractures and divisions that have grown deeper throughout society during the summer and fall of that tumultuous year.
The ethereal summer of love co existed with the violent summer of heated race riots and angry anti-war demonstrations that were erupting across the country
American Dreams have begun unraveling as basic institutions come under attack. The rules of habit, tradition and authority are eroded.. The turbulence of youth has caused a punch drunk unsteadiness of the balancing older generation.
Madison Avenue itself comes under attack by the hippies condoning consumer culture.Disgust with mass culture was settling over the country with their battle cry: “Arise ye prisoners of Affluence, ye processed of the earth.”
Where the Money Is
Everyone wanted to be where the action was.
Like most Mad Men, Sterling Cooper will have to figure out how to stake a claim in the shining orbit of the young and hip. Counter culture has begins to make inroads into mainstream and Madison Avenue tries to cash in.
Even the staid Establishment Wall Street Journal picked up on the super-present world of hippies and the youthquake which is seen as the link to the future. “Call It Psychedelic and it Will Sell Fast, Some Merchants Say” splashed the headline of their front page story.
Not only had the kids stopped looking up to their parents for guidance, but parents were instead looking towards them to emulate. Adults seized on the new lingo as fast as they came out.
Whats a Happening Baby
Hoping to cash in on the youthquake was Clarks Teaberry Gum who introduced the “Teaberry Shuffle” hoping to create a dance craze. The company ran a series of commercials using Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass who performed the dance song “The Teaberry Shuffle.”
In each commercial a bored looking person would unwrap a stick of Clarks Teaberry Gum and start chewing it. The chewer would abruptly break into a rapid swinging, energetic dance with distinctive shuffling steps for several seconds then just as abruptly return to his original activity.
In this Clarks Gum ad (above right) that ran in the fall of 1967, you could send away for your very own Shuffle Shift Kit.
“A Happening is you and Clark’s Gum Shuffle Shift Party Kit. You’re wearing our kicky Shuffle Shift” begins the ad copy.
“You’re listening to a 2-sided stereo LP record of the famous Clark Gum Shuffle. And you’re doing that groovy TV dance! The kit includes illustrated instructions. Send for a Clark shuffle shift Party Kit. Its packed in a turned on fashion carry-all bag and consists of the disposable shuffle shift in your size, the stereo LP with 12 minutes of swinging shuffle tunes, and a super stick of Clark Fruit Punch gum.”
Even as Madison Avenue goes with the trend, there is a disconnect between the advertisements we see in the magazines and the turmoil seen in the nightly news.
Come on Baby Light My Fire
In 1967 a series of ads run by Edison Electric Institute boasted that “You Love Better Electrically.” Featuring a wholesome American family comfortable in their suburban home the ads touted that “total electricity is a clean break with the past.”
A clean break with the past was already underway.
The counter-culture was blossoming. Never were the divisions so clear as between the Establishment and the hippies that hung out at the intersection of Height and Ashbury in San Francisco, the epicenter for the hippie shocks that have been felt through the world.
Dismissing the Protestant ethic of their parents- hard work, competition and material success, middle class kids scorned their middle class status and values. They didn’t want to be part of a society that was corrupt, repressive, materialistic, joyless and uptight.
In a world gone peculiar with paisley spirals and whorls these acid tripping peace and love spouting hippies challenged the establishment. The cartoon on the right depicting the counter-culture flourishing was by Phil Interlandi that appeared in Playboy Magazine.
Forget all the student revolts, and unrest that were spreading across college campuses that fall. Never mind the Be-In’s.
A Type-In was where the action was. Write On!
Students revolts were serious matters with political implications meaning to change our ways about race, Vietnam, society, and work but Smith Corona invited the college student to a “Type-In” in an ad for their electric portable typewriter.
“If you want to swing college, come to the type-in. It’s a happening right nw in front of the worlds first portable electric typewriter. It’s the natural choice of the campus bound crowd.”
Tarrytown Cigarettes continued its ad campaign declaring defiantly “Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch.”
Anti-war demonstrations across the nation vowed not to fight period.
As the war grew in ferocity and monthly draft calls were rising, large demonstrations were held against Vietnam in NYC and San Francisco and tens of thousands of Vietnam war protesters marched in Washington DC in October. U.S. troop levels in Vietnam had passed 475,000 exceeding the total troop strength in Korea while the U.S. total bombing tonnage exceeds that of WWII.
By late November, U.S. General William Westmoreland told US news reporters “I am absolutely certain that whereas in 1965 the enemy was winning, today he is certainly losing.”
Despite that, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara announced his resignation to become president of The World Bank. This action was due to LBJ’s rejection of his November recommendation to freeze troop levels, stop bombing North Vietnam and hand over ground fighting to South
Burn Baby Burn
It was a summer of smoke and fire as Blacks revolted across the nation. The idyllic springtime freshness of Kool cigarette contrasted sharply with the blazing riots that spread from Detroit, to Newark to Washington DC.
With the exploding heat and violence crackling across the nation African-Americans made great inroads that summer as Thurgood Marshall is confirmed as first African-American Justice of US Supreme Court and The Supreme Court rules unconstitutional state laws against interracial marriage.
Pink is Still For Girls
Sexism is still alive and well, despite the growing presence of women active in political movements.
Copyright (©) 2013 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved
Great post, Sally. Hitting even closer to home with everything going on in the world these days and then, of course, having just seen Mad Men return (finally!) on Sunday.
Thanks Nancy, glad you enjoyed the post, and like you am looking forward to seeing where Mad Men takes us this season…I suspect its going to be a rocky ride.