To keep Mad Men the series true to agency life circa 1966, advertising legends Jerry Gibbons and Bob Pritikin anticipate major plot twists. In seasons 3 & 4, Don Draper made soul-searching trips to a California that seemed both brighter and more boring than New York – but during Season 5 set in 1966, the West Coast's psychedelic creative scene would blow Madison Avenue's pinstriped mind.
Pritikin and Gibbons know the scene: they worked together at Dailey & Associates in California, and co-founded their ground-breaking agency in San Francisco, official birthplace of '60s hippie counterculture. Over old-school vodka martinis and the new Memoir Tree oral history iPhone app, Gibbons and Pritikin discussed what's ahead for Mad Men's fictional Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce agency in 1966, and which characters are most likely to open a branch office out West.
Joan Starts a San Francisco Branch
Gibbons and Pritikin recall two protoypes for Mad Men office manager Joan Holloway in their agency circa 1966. Closest in attitude and physical attributes was their sharp-witted, red-haired, curvaceous receptionist, whose primary function was matching wits and martinis with clients. Everything could be expensed, and comp time unofficially granted for client-induced hangovers. This proto-Joan receptionist brings to mind Pritikin & Gibbons' racy ad of a cat-eyed, leather-clad dominatrix straddling motorcycle tires, cat-o-nine-tails in hand, looming over a Futura Bold-style tagline: "Speedmaster Demands Your Respect!"
Yet Gibbons suggests Joan may have more in common with Pritikin's former secretary Milissa, who rose from the '60s typing pool ranks to become the office manager of Dailey & Associates San Francisco. She proved her mettle handling executive caprices – as Gibbons recalls, Pritikin had high secretary turnover with impossible orders like "Get me King Farouk!"
But at an independent San Francisco agency like Pritikin & Gibbons, Joan might recover her sense of fun, with clients that included groovy radio stations, the Sierra Club and Marine World Africa USA. Neither an agency creative nor a counterculture convert, Joan would nonetheless tap into both scenes, organizing focus groups of swingers as needed. Such a group would doubtless approve the Aqua Fem commercial Pritikin & Gibbons created circa 1970, featuring a dreamy-eyed blonde suggestively brandishing an electric douche, implying a secondary use for its nozzle with this tagline: "This is exactly what you think it is. And isn't it marvelous." Joan would hardly be scandalized.
Roger Goes Hollywood – and Latin
After keeping him in line at the San Francisco branch, Joan may be relieved to see Roger Sterling sent to Latin America by a client to watch the coffee grow – as actually happened with Pritkin and Gibbons' client Folger's at Dailey and Associates. But if Mad Men plots follow Pritikin's experience, Latin American sojourns may not entirely reform irreverent Roger. In what Pritkin admits was "probably in bad taste," they hired two-and-a-half-tall actress Tamara De Treaux to put on a coffee bean costume and become Folger's coffee mascot: "the human bean."
Gibbons confirms that this politically incorrect campaign was initially approved, and launched with a lavish party. But the party apparently got out of hand, and in his forthcoming book Celebrity, Pritikin claims that De Treaux shucked her bean costume in front of the heir to the Folger coffee fortune. No stranger to an agency party gone wrong, Roger would have done what quick-thinking Pritikin & Gibbons did: the "human bean" was nixed and campaign revised to feature an artist-animated jumping coffee bean – much like the jumping bean campaign Peggy pitched to Heinz in the first episode of Mad Men Season 5.
As Joan might say with an eye-roll, everything worked out for the best in the end. Specialty coffee took off in the late '60s, and De Treaux later found work donning an alien costume for the movie E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Roger might use the material for a sequel to his memoir Sterling's Gold, though his title probably wouldn't be as provocative as Pritkin's first memoir: Christ Was an Ad Man.
Bert Cooper Gets Naked with Clients
Sent to the new San Francisco office so that he'd quit cramping Don Draper's style, barefoot Bert Cooper would finally become a full-fledged nudist. Since the late 1960s, shivering sunbathers have been baring it all in the San Francisco Bay Area at foggy San Gregorio Beach, America's first nude beach. But while communing with nature in the buff, Bert would also show his business savvy, approving creative like Pritikin and Gibbon Dailey and Associates' late-sixties print ad with this provocative headline: "A word about nude swimming."
This campaign stars a cartoon character who looks like Bert: a portly, mustachioed businessman who has tossed aside his fedora and overstarched clothes and is letting it all hang out poolside, his bare feet dangling into an aqua-blue pool. The copy begins like a naturist manifesto scripted by Bert himself: "The beautiful abandon of swimming in the raw is at once an experience of sensual, almost spiritual joy." But Pritikin's next sentence bears the unmistakable editorial stamp of a true Don Draper: "Do it alone, do it with friends, do it with the better half – but by all means, do it in an Anthony Pool."
"Mad Men gets a lot of the sixties exactly right," explains real-life Don Draper Jerry Gibbons. "But really, they're missing out on half the fun."
All interviews with original Mad Men Jerry Gibbons and Bob Pritikin were recorded using Memoir Tree, the oral history iPhone app. Memoir Tree is now available for free on Apple's iTunes App Store. Author Alison Bing is an advisor to the company. No promotional consideration was given to THE FIVE for its use of promotion.