PRINT October 2008



AMONG THE MORE INTRIGUING SCENES in the AMC television series Mad Men, a drama set in the offices of a prominent New York advertising company at the beginning of the 1960s, is a sequence in which a few of the firm’s executives sit down to view freshly minted commercials for the day’s presidential candidates, Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy. The contrast in styles couldn’t be starker: Nixon sits stolidly at his desk, enumerating his qualifications in clear terms before somberly conveying his views on what he considers the nation’s most pressing issues; Kennedy, by contrast, appears in his commercial only as a smiling picture bouncing through an animated cartoon accompanied by a jingle worthy of My Fair Lady. It isn’t long before the admen—who, as it happens, are in charge of reinventing Nixon’s campaign image—are shaking their heads in disbelief at the fact that the 1960

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