Jaguar Porn on Mad Men

Richard Cox  •  Rent A Vette News  •  

All Eyes on Jaguar

It’s late 1966 and Ad Agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is vying to represent Jaguar, because, as Don Draper tells the office, “every agency on Madison Avenue is defined by the moment they got their car.”

Jaguar and Mad Men

Don and Joan pay a visit to a circa-1965 Jaguar dealership.

 

When I watched Don and Joan pay a visit to a circa-1965 Jaguar dealership, it reminded me of my long love of buying Jaguars and the thrill that goes with it.

Too bad, though, that they used this dreary looking showroom. Originally, Jags were to be sold out of a glamorous show room built by Frank Lloyd Wright in Manhatten. The sleek 3,600 square foot showroom on Park Avenue and 56th Street was completed in 1955 as the Hoffman Auto Showroom.

Jaguar Showroom

Frank Lloyd Wright’s drawing for the Hoffman Show Room (courtesy the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation)

 

Max Hoffman is a legend with the auto set, having been one of the first to import cars from Europe to the United States, including those from Porsche, BMW, Jaguar, and Mercedes. Complete with a gleaming jaguar statue leaping from the planter at the center of a rotating display platform wrapped by the curve of a ramp where additional cars could be shown. Unfortunately, by the time it opened, Hoffman had moved to selling Mercedes instead, and the Jaguar never got its place of honor in the center of Wright’s “machine age” design.

Jaguar Showroom, circa 1955

Hoffman Showroom, circa 1955

 

Wouldn’t this have been much more in line with the Mad Men era?

The cars look spectacular. The salesman describes the Mark Sedan as “Too much power for the roads in England”. “The E-Type is the most beautiful car in the world,” says the salesman. Don hands him a check for $6,000, which is way over asking price.

Don Draper makes driving the stick shift 1966 Jaguar E-Type, one of the fastest cars of its day, look pretty darn cool, in spite of the fact that he was sloshed. As usual.

Later, at dinner, he quips, “a man getting out of a Jaguar needs a cold shower…the Jaguar XKE is pornographic.”

The Pitch

As usual, Draper nails it. “At Last, Something Beautiful You Can Truly Own.” This is Don’s fantasy. He cannot overcome his inner demons to truly love the women in his life. The car is beautiful, sexy, something you can love. It’s a forever car. One you can own. This captures the essence of Jaguar as more than a machine — something emotional, alive.

The Plot line

The plot line surrounding the Jaguar account was pretty unsavory: The ad men take shots at the car’s reliability; a Jaguar exec insinuates he’d only hire SCDP if buxom Joan has sex with him; and Lane Pryce attempts suicide by asphyxiating himself in a Jag — only to discover that the car won’t start.

I wondered how Jaguar took the whole thing, because all of it is patently false. But, of course, it makes for the kind of story line that we have come to expect from Mad Men. The way they include real brands in a fictional world, set four decades ago, is nothing short of genius. So genius that facts and fiction all seem completely believable. Yet are they?

Jaguar’s Response

Jaguar is a British luxury automaker located in Coventry, England. Founded in 1922 as a manufacturer of motorcycle sidecars, the company’s subsequent car designs like the XK120 and E-Type are considered some of the most beautiful in automotive history. They enjoy the prestige of a long and esteemed lineage of sexy cars and the loyalty of those who fall in love with them.

So how did Jaguar’s execs respond to the plot?

Apparently, it has been a roller coaster. Taking it all in fun at times, and getting a little tense at times. Yet, I wonder if the old adage that, “No press is bad press,” holds true.

In a mostly humorous, and refreshingly honest repartee, David Pryor & Stuart Schorr of Jaguar North America, talk about the “equally fun and horrifying” job of keeping up with the episodic contrivances around Jaguars in Mad Men. Read their responses here: How It Feels To Watch Mad Men Total Your Car Company. Obviously, not everything that happens concerning the brand is sexy. This must have kept their PR department up at night!

Jaguar Arouses Deep Emotion

In the pitch, Don said, “It arouses deep emotions, because it creates desire, because it is, by nature, unattainable.”

Not so, Don Draper. Rent a Vette makes driving the unattainable attainable. When in Phoenix, do as Don Draper would do.

Rent a Jaguar