In Mad Men‘s season four premiere, ‘Public Relations’, Peggy and Pete orchestrate an unconventional and unofficial publicity stunt that involves actresses fighting over a Sugarberry ham in the grocery store. As planned, the stunt is written up in the paper and leads to a spike in Thanksgiving sales for the ham company. Peggy proudly composes a tagline: “Our hams are worth fighting for.”*Warning: this post summarizes a plot line of a ‘Mad Men’ episode and speaks about character development. It does not contain major spoilers, but read on at your own risk.
All goes well until the actresses start fighting in real life, and one sues the other for assault. Then they both end up in jail. Peggy goes to Don, who is distracted and unaware of the stunt, in need of money for bail. Despite the success of the original stunt, Don is not too happy with the outcome. He visits Peggy at home and insults her in front of her boyfriend, but she’s not going to take it.
As Peggy gains confidence, she no longer holds Don on a pedestal. These factors, along with others make for Peggy’s expeditious character development. One of Don’s most notable existential crises lasts throughout season four. Peggy’s role in his life at this time leads to moments in which they see eye to eye. Their relationship throughout the series, strictly platonic, goes in many directions beyond mentor and protégé, and season four witnesses some of the best of these moments.
Vegan Sugarberry Ham Ads
Since Sugarberry is a fictional company, I decided to create “print” advertisements using Peggy’s tagline. On my search for an appropriate typeface to use for the ads (thinking I ought to use one that at least existed in the ’60s!), I came across this article on Mad Men‘s props and typography. It’s an interesting read and points out that many typefaces used in the show were created for use on computers and were thus a few decades out of place. After sifting through 1960s-inspired psychedelic fonts, I decided to keep it simple and settled on variations of Futura.
The vegan ham recipe is a seitan roast from Taymer Mason’s Caribbean Vegan (the recipe can be found here on her blog). My mid-century modifications include the addition of Coca-Cola (2013 Coca-Cola, 1961 bottle) in the glaze, and the pineapple, cherry, and clove garnish before baking in the glaze. I decided to style the photos with the early ’60s in mind.
Other plot lines in ‘Public Relations’ include Don bombing a newspaper interview, pitching an ad to prudish Jantzen swimwear, and some of the main characters’ changing family units. Season four is definitely a turning point for the series, and it’s a wild ride.