I’ve been there! Although Esalen is never mentioned by name, there’s no mistaking the serene Big Sur retreat at which Don Draper found inner peace as anywhere other than the Esalen Institute, where I was fortunate enough to have spent a life-enriching week back in the late 90s.
Although my feelings about Mad Men were more “meh” than marvelous during its run, the finale has had my mind in overdrive ever since watching it at 2am Monday morning.
After Don’s epiphany, pictured in the smile above, the screen segues to the iconic Coca Cola commercial that anyone alive in the early 70s should remember…
Although Amy Simon, who joined me in the second hour of today’s show, disagreed on the meaning of it, I took it as meaning that Don dreamed up the idea for the spot right then and there, and went back to NY to become the golden man of McCann-Ericson with this concept for Coke.
That would be the perfect ending, if not for the inconvenient truth about who was behind that iconic ad, as detailed in this piece I found on Medium. Its author apparently got his information from this Ebony article by Ericka Blount Danois, “Will the Final Season of ‘Mad Men’ Get Any Blacker?”
Roquel Billy Davis had reinvented himself yet again. Mary Wilson from The Supremes stood near Davis at a party at Aux Puces restaurant, a beaded necklace around her neck, a wide smile just above it. Paul Foley, president and CEO of Interpublic Group of Companies, stood in between them. Davis, an ad executive at McCann-Erickson advertising agency on Madison Avenue, had just been appointed music director of the agency, and execs at McCann were throwing a party to celebrate.
Davis was famous in music industry circles, and he was African-American. The senior art director at McCann-Erickson was George Olden, another African-American.[snip – but you really should click-through and read the whole thing; it’s fascinating history!]
Before moving into advertising, in the mid-1960s, Detroit native Roquel Billy Davis, along with Berry Gordy, co-founded the Motown concept. Davis was the A&R man at Chess Records then, supervising in-house writers and producers and writing songs. “’Cause I’m lonely and I’m blue, I need you,” he wrote for Fontella Bass, on her hit, “Rescue Me.” He wrote for Billy Stewart, The Dells and Jackie Ross, and worked and sang with the Four Tops when they still called themselves The Four Aims.
Davis also produced records for Little Milton, and helped along new writers and arrangers working with Berry Gordy to write hits. He developed the songwriting team of C. Davis and R. Minor. For Jackie Wilson (his cousin), he wrote “Lonely Teardrops,” “That’s Why (I Love You So),” and “I’ll Be Satisfied.” He wrote “All I Could Do Was Cry,” for Etta James, with songwriting partners Berry Gordy and his daughter, Gwen Gordy.
Davis formed a record label with Gwen, began dating her (before Harvey Fuqua stole her from him and married her), and distributed Barrett Strong’s hit, “Money (That’s What I Want).” Motown eventually absorbed the label they named after Gwen’s sister, Anna, and signed Marvin Gaye in the process.
Davis would write for Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Neil Diamond, Phoebe Snow, Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Chuck Berry, The Beach Boys, and Otis Redding, among many others. In all, he produced hit singles that sold in excess of 20 million records. Soon, the advertising world came recruiting. [snip again]
Davis stayed with the agency for 19 years as a music director, creative concept writer, composer and producer, rising to senior vice president. He would popularize and create new “song-form” advertising that won every award the industry offers. He wrote Coca-Cola songs which are some of the most popular advertisements in existence today, including, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” “It’s the Real Thing,” “Have a Coke and a Smile,” “Mean Joe Green,” “Coke Is It” and “Country Sunshine.” He also wrote songs for Miller Brewing Company (“If You’ve Got the Time”), Campbell’s Soup and Sony.
Of course, the point of the articles isn’t to say that Don Draper didn’t write the jingle/song. Duh! Don’s not a real person! The point is probably best explained in this paragraph:
Mad Men is intriguing as it is in part because it recreates a warts-and-all version of 1960s WASP America: privilege, entitlement and the inevitable result of both, resistance to change. It undermines the myth of moral stability that shows like Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best offered.
And this one:
Let Matthew Weiner—creator and producer of the highly acclaimed, Emmy-award winning TV series Mad Men—tell it, the revolution happening in the streets didn’t seep into corporate America except as a shadow. The only Black characters of Man Men (custodians, elevator operators, housekeepers and secretaries) are all stoic in the company of the White people who surround them on the show. They keep their heads down and do their work—happy to be employed. That’s entirely accurate. And then, it’s not.
One really fascinating aspect about that article,other than the obvious, is that it was written in April, more than a month prior to Sunday night’s Mad Men finale. I don’t think Ericka Blount Danois knew that the final Mad Men shot would be that iconic Coke commercial, but she used it to make a point about the show’s lack of African-American characters like the real life Billy Davis. She just happened to hit the nail on the head.
In the first hour of the show, I let Elizabeth Warren do the talking … literally. The Senator from Massachusetts gets more and more impressive with each passing day. As President Obama is lobbing unwarranted and offensive criticisms at her for daring to oppose his demand for Fast Track authority to pass his ill-advised Trans-Pacific Partnership, she hit back with facts in the form of a 16-page paper entitled Broken Promises: Decades of Failure to Enforce Labor Standards in Free Trade Agreements.
She spoke last weekend to the California Democratic Convention, and her speech was as riveting & inspiring as she always delivers.
If you need more reasons to oppose Fast Track (and the TPP in general), I offer these two items:
- If you think meats should be labeled with the Country of Origin (COOL), the WTO said too bad!
- The appellate body of the World Trade Organization announced Monday that it has ruled against a U.S. appeal of an earlier decision that the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law treats Canadian beef and pork and Mexican beef unfairly. The announcement drew immediate promises from some leaders in Congress that the COOL law passed with the 2008 Farm Bill must be appealed. And opponents of free trade cited the ruling as an example of why the Obama Administration’s current efforts to negotiate a Trans-Pacific Partnership should be opposed.
- The Senate deal to pass Fast Track includes a provision called TAA – Trade Adjustment Assistance – a bill that provides federal funds for workers displaced by free trade agreements. Workers receive job training and placement services, relocation expenses, income support, and help with health insurance premiums. Guess how this is paid for:
- TAA is partially financed through $700 million in Medicare cuts. Sequestration expires in fiscal year 2024, but the TAA bill expands it by piling those cuts onto the back end. Most of the other $2.2 billion gets financed through customs user fees.
Somehow, I don’t think you’ll hear about either of those on your nightly network news program or cable news either. Just sayin’….
Tomorrow, the next edition of the “Oy FloriDUH Files” and we’ll talk with Antonia Juhasz about her submarine excursion to the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, radio or not!