Last month, everyone's favorite show about philandering ad men,
Martinis And SexismMad Men, began plastering the subways and bus stops with a stark new ad campaign, which ended up spinning off into an endlessly fun photoshopping contest. But some people thought the ad conjured up the image of 9/11—and the NY Times decided to ask families of victims what they thought. “I am so worn out by you guys coming to us in order to create a kerfuffle where none exists,” wrote Rita Lasar, whose brother Abraham J. Zelmanowitz was killed on 9/11. “You may think you are being sensitive to our feelings, but in reality you are just using us so you can write a story that refers only to your own feelings.”
Copyranter had pointed out the Sept. 11 parallel over a month ago, noting that the Don Draper "falling man" image—accompanied by no text other than the date of the season 5 premiere, "March 25"—might be confusing to people who weren't familiar with the show. AMC explained the significance of the image in a statement to the Times: “The image of Don Draper tumbling through space has been used since the show began in 2007 to represent a man whose life is in turmoil. The image used in the campaign is intended to serve as a metaphor for what is happening in Don Draper’s fictional life and in no way references actual events.”
But besides Lasar, most of the quotes the Times used for their story focused on family members who were unnerved by the ad: “It seems that Hollywood—and now advertising—doesn’t care about the sensitivities of the families and New Yorkers,” said Nancy Nee, sister of firefighter George C. Cain.
Anita LaFond Korsonsky, whose sister, Jeanette LaFond-Menichino, worked on the 94th floor of 1 World Trade Center, understood how people could be caught off guard by the image: “If I was walking around Manhattan and saw the billboard, I might be instantly reminded of those who leaped to their death in desperation on 9/11—and yes, one of them could have been my sister. While in reality, I can’t expect everyone to forever have to gauge their public works against thoughts of 9/11, I think that in this case such a depiction could have been avoided.”