All publicity is good publicity, they say. But it is not always solicited. When a Jaguar XKE made a cameo appearance on AMC’s 60s-era misogynist dramedy “Mad Men” Sunday evening, the automaker says it was apparently as surprised as anyone. Although gracious about the free plug, Jaguar implied, in an off-hand way, that the context of the nod was questionable.
“Signal 30,” the episode that premiered on April 15, involved, in part, a bid for a Jaguar account by the ad firm Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. In the plot, Jaguar is looking for a firm to advertise its cars in the United States. While ogling a Jaguar XKE, Don Draper, the show’s womanizing star (Jon Hamm), uses some choice words in his pitch:
“I think a man getting out of a Jaguar needs a cold shower. … The Jaguar XKE is pornographic.”
Cold showers rain
The client, a Jaguar rep, is treated to some of the local amenities by Don and the boys. Later, he gets in trouble with his wife when she finds chewing gum on a part of his body where chewing gum does not traditionally belong. Partially because he blames the Mad Men for his troubles, the client finally denies them the account.
Jaguar surprised by cameo
Reports say that the British automaker — which is owned by India-based Tata Motors — did not solicit or even know about the cameo. Product placement deals are often made behind closed doors, but it seems unlikely that Jaguar would react at all if the appearance was the company’s idea.
The luxury automaker said, in a statement:
“We did not have any role in the creation of the Jaguar brand storyline in the AMC television show ‘Mad Men,’ though we did enjoy seeing the Jaguar brand make a cameo. Certainly, Jaguar, and especially the Jaguar E-Type, was one of the enduring iconic images of that era.”
Nice dodge, turning “pornographic” into “iconic.” The Jaguar XKE — as the E-Type is known Stateside — after all, has been called the sexiest car ever made on more than one occasion. So perhaps Don Draper and Jaguar both have a point.
In a related bit of irony, two of the show’s stars are pitchmen for luxury automakers — though not for Jaguar. Jon Hamm, who plays Draper, does voice-overs for Mercedes-Benz. John Slattery, who plays Roger Sterling, has done commercials for Lincoln. Slattery also directed Sunday’s “Signal 30” episode.