‘Mad Men’ Gets Advertising Age Cameo All Wrong: ‘We Didn’t Ask Cute-Ass Questions,’ Rance Crain Writes

Jul 26, 2010  •  Post A Comment

"Mad Men" has already come under fire from George Lois, a real-life advertising man from the 1960s, for misrepresenting the changes to the industry during the era.

And now Rance Crain, who serves as editor-in-chief of Advertising Age and whose family started the trade publication (as well as TelevisionWeek and TVWeek.com), takes aim at the advertising magazine’s cameo in the fourth season debut of the AMC series.

"I felt George’s pain in the opening scene of Sunday’s episode, however," Crain writes, after advising Lois to lighten up. "Don Draper is at lunch with an Ad Age reporter, and our guy’s first line is: ‘Who is Don Draper?’ Don doesn’t know what to say, so he asks how other people responded to such a question. ‘They say something cute,’ our reporter says. ‘One creative director said he was a lion tamer.’ " The reporter then goes on to take notes in shorthand and informs Draper that his photo may be bigger than the story.

"What’s wrong with this picture?," Crain continues. "No. 1, we never did interviews over lunch; No. 2, we didn’t take notes in shorthand; No. 3, we didn’t ask cute-ass questions; and No. 4, our pictures were never bigger than our stories. "

Crain goes on to write in detail about what it was really like to work for the trade magazine in 1964. For those wanting to read vivid slice of the characters who worked the phones and their sources during the era, it’s a must-read.


  1. Having voiced their strong opinions, it looks like these two men, both mad (as in angry), both former “mad men” could potentially serve as great consultants to this show!

  2. Obviously the biggest factor is whether Weiner hopes that real-life Mad Men see the show as accurate, or whether actual viewers do.
    While Weiner strives for period accuracy, I suspect these complaints are a little like getting complaints from those in organized crime that The Sopranos wasn’t getting things quite right – as long as most viewers think it’s accurate, it’s really not that important.

  3. It is a plot device. Not a documentary on Ad Age. When will people grow up? They should be happy to have their little publication mentioned on the show. Especially during a period where the print world is struggling.

  4. This is a dramatic TV show, guys!…not a documentary. Take away the question, shorthand and “cute” and you have boring TV. Lighten up or risk being cast in “Grumpy Old Men II.”

  5. The sequel was called “Grumpier Old Men.” Guess you didn’t see it.

  6. Crain has a point. If Weiner wanted the credibility and authenticity of using an “Ad Age reporter”, he should have done his homework. Otherwise he should have made up a fictional ad magazine.

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