Sexy twist in TV show Mad Men has Jaguar's wheels spinning (just a bit)

When a British-made car gets acres of free publicity on primetime American TV, who's going to complain?

Joan Holloway, played by Christina Hendricks

Jaguar cars have been receiving this largesse over the past few weeks in the hit US advertising series "Mad Men".

But the most recent episode, with the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce agency trying to win its first car account, definitely merits the word "racy."

The fictional head of the Jaguar Dealers Association, Herb Rennet lets SCDP's Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove know he will vote their way - for one night with office manager Joan Holloway .

In what AdAge calls "a bit of back-door manoeuvering and office politics, if not downright prostitution," Joan agrees to the deal in return for a 5% stake in the company and a junior partnership.

David Pryor, VP-brand development for JaguarUSA, told the mag he watched the episode with "equal parts shock and amusement".

"I'm a big fan of the show and it was gratifying to see our brand portrayed. I would say we were fairly surprised ."

Jaguar had no control over the script, although their archivist helped with info about the advertising for the then British-owned firm in the 1960s and the look of showrooms. Sunday night was the first time anyone at the car firm had seen the episode. But Jaguar are confident viewers know it's all fiction.

Today Jaguar is owned by the Indian giant Tata Motors.

Don Draper did try- too late - said AdAge - to convince Joan not to sleep with the Jaguar executive, hoping that SCDP's pitch would bag the account.

The play-it-safe admen even rejected the slogan "Jaguar: The mistress who will do things your wife won't," going instead for "Jaguar: At last, something beautiful you can truly own."

Pete Campbell doesn't come out of the debate too well. He compares Joan's sexy antics to being not much different from schmoozing a client. "We've all had nights in our life when we've made mistakes for free", he says - and, he adds, Joan is going to get paid.

Did they win the account? You'll just have to watch.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.