By the '80s, Ogilvy was pontificating from his castle in France. So it was easy to imagine that he knew whereof he spoke.
One of the smartest things in the book, though, was Ogilvy's advice on hiring. He gave every new hire a set of Russian nesting dolls. Inside the last was a slip of paper. It read: "If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants." Today Ogilvy & Mather is one of the biggest ad agencies in the world.
Speaking of giants, "Tea Leaves," Episode 3 of the fifth season of Mad Men, opens with our old friend Betty Francis attempting to stuff herself into a party dress and failing miserably. (Actually, Bobby and Sally are the ones doing the stuffing. They tug on the dress and lean on the zipper until Betty gives up in disgust.) She's put on weight--a lot of weight. Matthew Weiner has chosen to use January Jones's real-life pregnancy in a very interesting way; Betty's a housewife who handles her anxiety and boredom by stuffing her face.
Or is that the reason for her weight gain? On the advice of her obese mother-in-law, Betty visits her doctor to wrangle a prescription for diet pills. But the doctor finds something else: a tumor on her thyroid. Suddenly, Betty is confronting her mortality, too, and the season premiere's central theme slides into this episode as easily as Megan slips into her own party dress. All of our old Mad Men friends are feeling their age these days.
The Generation Gap is fully agape when Don and Harry hang out backstage at a Rolling Stones show, trying to sign on Mick and the boys for a Heinz Beans commercial. A pretty teen tells Don they'll never do it, and she's right. She asks Don why people his age don't want to let the kids have any fun. But it's not that. "We're worried about you," Don says.
But Don is also worried about Betty, and what might happen to the kids if Betty dies. Megan's good with the kids, but she's a kid herself. We've seen Don Draper drunk, disheveled, angry, and flummoxed. But this is the first time we've ever seen him look old.
Megan continues to amaze. She's an extremely intelligent, intuitive person who prods Don out of this funk and tells him, in her own way, that we're all going to die and there's nothing he can do about it, so he might as well go to the beach with her. Don will almost certainly break her heart this season, and it will be a horrible thing to see. But for now, she seems a surprisingly good match for him. She loves work. She loves to party. She can sing a mean "Zou Bisou Bisou." Have you gotten that ear worm out of your head yet?
In other developments, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is hiring. They've already hired a new secretary for Don: an African-American woman named Dawn, which causes lots of snickering around the office. Also, Peggy's given the job of hiring a copywriter. Pete Campbell has talked Mohawk Airlines back into the fold, and they need a dedicated writer on the account. Stan the art director advises Peggy to hire a hack--no need to look for somebody who'd challenge her position at the agency--but Peggy has an Ogilvidian sense of duty. She wants to be great, and Michael Ginsberg, a brash, hyperactive young writer with a great book, seems to be the agency's ticket to gianthood.
Not that Ogilvy's strategy always works out. Roger, after all, hired Pete Campbell, who calls the entire agency into his big, new office to announce the Mohawk deal and belittles Roger in the process. Roger storms out and tells Don that he's tired of having to prove his worth; Don tells Roger that Betty has cancer--although at this point, we know otherwise. Once again, Roger has the show's money line, but this time, it's no joke: "When is everything going to get back to normal?" he asks.
The answer is, never. It's never going back to the way things used to be for Roger or Don or Peggy or Betty or poor Henry Francis, who got both more and less than he bargained for when he married Betty. Henry thought he was building a family of giants. Turns out that, in spite of her weight gain, Betty may be an emotional dwarf. Henry, though, is starting to realize he's been snookered. No matter how pretty the pitch, it's still disappointing when you realize it was all sizzle and no steak.