Up until the Sunday, May 27, episode of Mad Men, car maker Jaguar was innocently woven into this season’s storyline as a company that ad agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce was trying to secure as a client. [Editor’s Note: Spoiler alert if you still haven’t seen the episode.] That innocence, however, was shattered in that last episode, when the sleazy head of the Jaguar Dealers Association demanded an evening with SCDP’s office manager Joan Harris or risk losing a chance at representing the company.
Worse yet for the Jaguar brand, its classic XKE model was referred to as unreliable, although its beauty, speed and desirability were clearly on display.
Jaguar’s response to the not-so-flattering portrayal of its brand has been lighthearted. Jaguar USA tweeted shortly after the episode aired: “Loved the pitch, didn't love the process. We applaud Peggy leaving SCDP.”
Later on, David Pryor, VP of brand development for Jaguar USA, offered a deft PR response to the portrayal to AdAge.com: "I'm a big fan of the show and it was gratifying to see our brand portrayed," he said. "I would say we were fairly surprised at the turn of events." Then he went on to say that Jaguar agreed with the Don Draper character, in that the best creative should win, “not something that was less above-board. At the end of the day, though, we're confident that people know it's a fictional character."
Pryor said that Mad Men producers had been in touch with the company, but only to ask them about 1960s period details for showrooms and conference rooms. Thus, the negative turn of script for Jaguar was a big surprise. Yet, the company’s PR response was not a knee-jerk reaction often seen on social media channels. In fact, the reaction was like its 1960s-vintage cars: sleek and classy.
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