Season four of Mad Men starts in America tomorrow night, but I managed to get a sneak preview thanks to a friend and, watching it, I realised that most of America just doesn’t know how far back the PR industry’s influence stretches. Of course, if you’ve read my book The Fame Formula, you’d know that the history PR is a far richer seam to mine than that of the history of advertising – but this is largely undiscovered and unrecognised in America.
It’s not the opportunity to win a walk-on part in the series that I’m talking about, either – although that is a fine stunt to grab attention (who wouldn’t want to get dressed up in Madison Avenue finery and appear on screen with the intensely glam Mad Men and Women?). It’s more the homage to the great publicist Jim Moran in the actual episode that piqued my interest.
In the episode, a couple of actors are hired to fight over a ham to garner attention and are then seen being bribed to blow the stunt – it’s a fairly knockabout scene, especially when the cast try to stop the actors blowing the stunt. In real life, Jim Moran staged a row between to New York barkeepers to launch Pimms in America – he had them end up in court, rowing about the perfect ingredients for a Pimms and garnered a great deal of attention for the drink.
If Moran’s elegantly twisted wit and genius is being plundered by Mad Men already, it just goes to prove my point about PR being a richer seam to mine – they’ve run out of real stories from advertising. Is it not time. then, for a truer drama looking at the heart of the American dream? One that looks at the lives of the PR men?