With just one episode left in this year’s remarkable Mad Men season, AMC has cheerily released an “official” press release announcing the latest merger for the ad men, including a look at the new firm’s new logo and adorable comments from all of its partners. The memo was shared on Mad Men’s Facebook page after last night’s show (and subsequently shared by every person you know on social media), and while it’s certainly fun to gaze at, it’s even more fun to use as the jumping off point for some Mad Men activities (and, we’ll admit it now, to delve ever-deeper into the finely-tuned historical elements of the ever-accurate show). Let’s have some fun.
1. Call Peggy at (212) KL 5–0112
Well, we tried, and only got a recorded message telling us that dialing this number “is not allowed from this line.” What, SC&P doesn’t like iPhones?
Of course, the phone number listed on the release as the SC&P main line utilizes the traditional fictitious phone number style for most major entertainment productions. However, despite popular opinion, not all 555 numbers are fake, as only 555–0100 through 555–0199 have been set aside for strictly fictional use, while the rest of numbers have been assigned as regular phone numbers. Those poor people.
The inclusion of the “KL 5” dialing style is (of course) historically accurate. KL 5 was used in the mid-1960s by a number of television shows for its fake numbers, a throwback to the telephone exchange codes used in the early days of widespread telephone usage in America. Basically, they were used as a precursor to area codes, with the first two or three characters serving as direction for which central office the dialed number was served from. The “KL 5” exchange code was for “KLondyke(55),” which was fictitious from the get-go. The Bell System adopted all-number calling, and though they started rolling it out in 1958, most areas didn’t have it until the 1960s, and the transition was not considered complete until the 1980s.
2. Stare at the firm’s office address online
Manhattan’s Sixth Ave. has been referred to as “Avenue of the Americas” since way back in 1945, when its new moniker was actually signed into law by sitting mayor Fiorello La Guardia. SC&P notably occupies space at 1271 Ave. of the Americas, which is not only a real building (unlike Don and Megan’s Upper East Side apartment), it’s a famous building. Sure, if you’ve paid attention to the myriad mentions of the firm’s trials and travails when it comes to nabbing good office space, you know it’s the Time & Life Building (better known just as the Time-Life Building).
It’s basically super-swank, and it was still nice and new back in 1967 (it opened for business in 1959).
What did it look like back then? A bit like this.
What does it look like now? Take a walk around it.
3. Wonder about the historical meaning of the date
The release is prominently dated “October 27, 1968,” which is in line with the current timeline of the show (after all, the logo was featured in last night’s episode, which takes place in the autumn of 1968, though Megan and Don go to see Rosemary’s Baby during the episode, and that film was released way back in June of that year).
So what happened back in October of 1968? And what’s coming up in November of 1968? In short – a lot. October of 1968 featured all kinds of big happenings – some of them great, some of them not so great. Bad news? The Tlatelolco student demonstration in Mexico City ended in a massacre (with as many as three hundred people presumed dead), police officers abusing civil rights demonstrators in Derry, Northern Ireland essentially kickstarted “The Troubles,” the Department of Defense announced that they were sending 24,000 troops back to Vietnam War for involuntary second tours and both Panama and Peru got new governments via violent coup.
Good stuff happened, too! Apollo 7 was launched, the Summer Olympics happened, and Led Zeppelin performed live for the first time. Jackie Kennedy also remarried (as referenced in last night’s episode), though how you feel about the merits her marriages to Aristotle Onassis is probably a personal decision.
What’s coming up next? Three days after the SC&P release goes out, Lyndon B. Johnson will order a stop to all military bombardment of North Vietnam, and November will see Richard Nixon win the presidency, 3 million tons of bombs getting dropped on Laos, Yale University going co-ed, the Farmington Mine Disaster (which kill seventy-eight men), The Beatles releasing their so-called “White Album,” and the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 281 (departing from New York’s own JFK International Airport). While Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner has promised that no one will die this season, maybe someone could be on a hijacked flight where everyone lives? Maybe?
4. Imagine what each partner was doing as they fired off their dynamite quotes
Bert Cooper was happy that someone needing him for something (finally, sweet God, finally), and he struggled to get his shoes back on in time to chat. Roger Sterling was actually looking at a newspaper, which is the only reason he thought to say it was “front page news.” Don Draper was drinking, pacing, silently crying. Jim Cutler was high. Ted Chaough was really just thinking about Peggy.
5. Get angry that Joan doesn’t get a say in the release
Well, this one isn’t so much fun as it is infuriating – and par for the course. Joan Holloway is a partner, goddammit! At least Pete Campbell doesn’t get to pipe in, that would have been a real kick in the pants.
6. Compare the former logos of the Sterling Cooper dynasty
Sterling Cooper was all standard class, while SCDP was going for streamlined attitude. SC&P? It’s all forward thinking to the hues and styles of the 1970s. Yes, it’s hideous, but it’s certainly timely. Want to look at some other evolving logos? Check out this awesome piece.
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The season finale of Mad Men airs next Sunday.