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Ken Honeywell

Ken Honeywell
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
March 20
Well Done Marketing
I'm in love with my wife; a writer and producer living in Indianapolis; partner at Well Done Marketing; founder of Tonic Ball, a benefit concert that's become one of the city's favorite annual events; co-founder of Second Story, a creative writing program for kids; a vegetarian; lead singer of Yoko Moment; a life-long New York Mets fan; a sucker for waltz time; crazy about Pernice Brothers; etc.


MAY 28, 2012 9:35AM

Mad Men: Dickering Over Price

Rate: 5 Flag

A old man walks up to a woman in a bar. "I'm sorry to bother you, but my doctors have given me only two weeks to live," the man says. "I'm very wealthy, and I was wondering if you would sleep with me for a million dollars."

"Well," says the woman, "I suppose I would."

The old man smiles. "Would you sleep with me for ten dollars?"

The woman is aghast. "Of course not! What kind of woman do you think I am?"

"We've established what kind of woman you are," the man says. "Now we're dickering over price."

Lots of people in business joke about prostituting themselves for their clients, but we in advertising are particularly aware of the parallels. Some of us have been asked to shill for products we don't believe in. Nearly all of us have, at one time or another, smiled and agreed to do work for our clients that made us feel dirty.

More than anything, it's because ad agencies are loaded with smart, thoughtful people. We understand reality: you work, you get paid, you leave your idealism at the door. We make excuses: sure, we're trying to influence people to buy things, but people don't load their shopping carts with stuff they don't want. We're whores, but so is everyone else. We're just more aware of our status.

But most of us--god help us--have never actually slept with a client to win an account. Which is exactly what Joanie is asked to do in "The Other Woman," Episode 11 of Season 5 of Mad Men. Herb Rennet, head of the Jaguar dealer group, makes it clear to Pete and Ken that he'd like to sleep with that gorgeous redhead he met at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce--and that SCDP doesn't have a prayer of winning the account unless they can make that happen.

We like to think we'd be above that behavior. Fortunately for the sake of the story, Pete Campbell is not. He presents Rennet's proposal to Joan, who makes the mistake of not refusing outright, instead telling Pete, "I don't think you can't afford it."

Pete thinks otherwise. He suggests the partners offer Joan $50,000 to sleep with Rennet. Don storms out, Roger wants nothing to do with it, Bert Cooper wants to make sure Joan knows she doesn't have to do it.

And Lane Pryce is in a pickle. Remember, in the last episode, Lane embezzled $7,500 to pay his back taxes. Also remember, Lane is a least a little bit in love with Joan. So it's with a combination of self-interest, altruism, and self-loathing that Lane suggests to Joan that she not take a chunk of money; rather, she should parlay the proposition into a partnership at SCDP. Joan is that kind of woman; Lane is the pimp who's helping her dicker.

Meanwhile, Peggy's doing some dickering of her own. Fed up with being treated like shit by Don and the other men at SCDP, Peggy decides it's time to test the waters elsewhere. She has lunch with Freddy Rumsen--he of the pissed pants and unceremonious exit from SCDP--who convinces her she should leave. So she meets with Don Draper's arch rival Ted Chaough, who offers to pay her more than she asks--and make her copy chief. How can a woman say no to an offer like that?

Megan's got offers, too--well, almost. She's up for a part in Little Murders that's going to start rehearsals in Boston. Don is furious, telling her she can't just leave for three months. As if he owns her. As if anyone could own a beautiful woman--which, of course, is the whole idea behind SCDP's pitch to Jaguar. "Jaguar: At last, something beautiful you can truly own," is Ginsberg's idea, and it's perfect.

And so SCDP gets Jaguar. Joanie gets her partnership. Megan, who is treated like a piece of meat at her audition, does not get the part. Peggy takes the job--and walks out of the agency in the middle of the Jaguar celebration. The contrast in the looks on the faces of Joan and Peggy at the end of the episode tell the tale: Joan is a kept woman, Peggy is free--sad to leave, but determined. In the end, it doesn't matter how much money Don throws at Peggy, literally or figuratively. She's not whoring for him anymore.

That doesn't mean she won't be whoring. We're all in it for the money. Some of us--I include myself--are lucky enough to work for clients we love and believe in. But we all have business propositions that test our moral judgment. Would you work for a cigarette company? A huge defense contractor? A political candidate whose views you don't share? A product whose manufacture pollutes the environment? A perfectly legal business that charges poor people usurious rates for furniture or payday loans? For a million dollars? For enough money to live the rest of your life comfortably? Are you sure you're ready to answer?

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I missed this episode. So sad Joanie slept her way to the partnership. No. in answer to your question. Have been there and back and no, I am just not made that way. Although I have other vices. I will never be rich, that's ok.
Great review, great questions, enjoy these posts almost as much as the show itself.
A little thing - Meagan referred to "meeting with the playwrite." Feiffer was already a very big deal when he wrote Little Murders. She would have used his name. As I said - tiny but the only jarring misstep in the anachronism vein last night - that I noticed, anyway.

Don's approach to Joan re the prostitution proposition was, I'm thinking, was another step in what I'm seeing as some foreshadowing of a significant alliance to come, not romantic but there seems to be some kind if understanding or minded spirit there. Maybe it's just exposition of DD's respect for women the culture at large doesn't share that will matter more with Meagan.

In Little Murders, if I am remembering correctly, there is a scene in which a woman recounts an orgasm, ala Meg Ryan in When Harry met Sally. I had the (dubious) pleasure of seeing my own daughter perform that character, far too well, when she was 17!
I don't want to think, let alone write, more deeply about it now but I think you're too hard on yourself/everyone on the prostitution issue. Compromise, being less than perfectly purist, isn't always equivalent to whoring. Joanie, the sale of sex, that's more clear cut. The morality of that - is it definitely black & white always? Joan has always traded on her "feminine wiles" even her sexuality. It's her stock in trade. She's chided Peggy for not, assured her at least once it was the only way. She doesn't see any other way to gain power and position. I think she should have held out for a bigger cut of the company, 10% at least.

AND I would like to point out that my previous comment I typed on my phone. I'm getting way too good at that. Except that it should have been "like-minded spirit."
This was one of the best episodes ever of this series. And this season is stacking up as my favorite as well. The texture and dynamics of the characters is changing and evolving in fascinating directions.
I mention to my wife occasionally that I would love to see this series "magically" jump forward about 8-10 years. I am confident that the agency would be run by Joan and Peggy and Megan with Draper fulfilling the role that Cooper does now--senior statesman/eunuch.
By the way Ken, did you pick up on Draper's quoting of Mao Tse Tung at the tail end of the episode last night when he said that Sterling Cooper et al were embarking on a "Great leap forward"? I wonder if that was on purpose by the writers.
The world simply doesn't work like this.

I suppose it may be comforting to some people to believe that the ticket to financial success is to 'sell out'.

In my experience, money is made by associating with profitable companies. They tend to not have the time or inclination to ask people to compromise their values.

I wouldn't work at a payday loan. But they aren't really getting rich either. It is also a lousy job. Maybe some of the owners are making money, but so are the owners of Apple and Google.
But, for the sake of the show, if we play along with this --- Joan is getting 5% of the firm for fucking a customer?

OK. Let's say the offer was out there.

Joan is finally getting a big payday. Good for her.

What did she have prior?

Her office was a storeroom.

She had gone on 'dates' in earlier shows for trinkets.

She dated and got knocked up by a partner, with no pay off.

She married a guy for his personal status, even though he was a slime ball.

She isn't getting younger.

It might be last call for voluptuous, as twiggy is right around the corner.

And girls that simply give it away.

Megan's pal -- she might have done it for rent.

It isn't like Joan hadn't used her physical charms like a mechanic uses a chest of snap on tools.

And if (a huge if) she had gotten promoted simply on merits, everyone would have assumed that it was from sleeping with Roger.

So. Joan finally has her payday. Thank God. Because she was going to have to pay in a hundred big and small ways regardless.
Thanks for reading, everyone.

Nick: I think you're exactly right. This was actually a pretty ridiculous, unbelievable hour of television. That we buy it from a story standpoint is a credit to the writers. But the world doesn't work like this.

Also: I'm not talking about working for a payday loan store. I'm talking about doing advertising for Rent-A-Center. It's a multimillion dollar account. Their business is certainly legal. But would I, in good conscience, want to do advertising for them--when I know they're taking advantage of poor people? I would not. But Troy Aikman would.
RAC once offered this cynically brilliant coupon - 50% Off Your Down Payment!