I am a fan of “Mad Men” and love the different posters they do for each season. Where do they get the ideas for those?
—Calvin Montenegro, Gary, Ind.
The impressionistic poster for the sixth season of “Mad Men,” with the back-to-back Don Drapers—one with a briefcase and one holding the hand of a woman—was designed by 75-year-old British illustrator Brian Sanders. Executive producer/creator Matt Weiner, 47, was looking for a way to capture the essence of the era, and he discovered Sanders’ work in a book called “Lifestyle Illustration of the 60s.” The promo team for “Mad Men” looked Sanders up and contacted him and, as a fan of the show, he agreed to do the job.
“It always has something to do with the season. That’s all it’s about,” Weiner says of the poster designs, which give clues to what the season will be about. “We have a conversation at the beginning of every season and sometimes I reluctantly share that I’ve had these sorts of thoughts, because I believe in subconscious communication. I believe that that’s what cinema is about. I also believe that we have been lucky enough that AMC will take risks to stand out in the marketplace, and there’s an almost expectation that our key art will be in some way different or ahead of the curve.”
Weiner is the first to admit that not all the ideas stem from him. For example, the third season poster where Don Draper is seated in his office, which is flooded with water, was an idea that was presented to him and became one of his two favorites. The other was season one.
“The first season was my favorite and I had nothing to do with that,” the Baltimore, Md.-born writer/producer says. “They were zigging when everybody else was zagging. It was graphically bold, probably the only poster out that didn’t have a picture of the actor on it, and it got your attention, which is its job. You’re like, ‘What is that?’ All that white and black and Helvetica, a lot of it was very bold.”
Season five’s poster had Don looking in a store window with two dummies—the woman naked and the man in his PJs and slippers sitting in a chair. It was definitely provocative, but Weiner says it has a simple explanation.
“Last season’s [poster] was about Don trying on this marriage, an idealized marriage,” Weiner says. “He was looking in this shop window and seeing this mannequin, this undressed mannequin, and this guy sitting there watching it. I had this idea that this is this idealized figure, and he’s looking in there and he’s seeing, ‘Well, this is my ideal marriage. My wife is in there taking her dress off and I’m there in my slippers and my robe.’”