From Neda Semnani’s article in Roll Call:
Recently, there have been a couple of events — the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual gala in June and last week’s DC Republican Committee “35 most influential Republicans under 35” reception — that have used the hit show about the world of 1960s New York City advertising as the theme.
The CEI event even created a parody of the television show called “Maddening Ad Men Visit CEI.”
“Well, basically what we’re offering is an opportunity for a mea culpa,” two schlubby advertising guys tell the boardroom. “An ‘I’m sorry,’ if you will. Look, folks, our research shows this free-market stuff, it just doesn’t go over well these days. I mean, it’s not popular with the young generation.”
The camera cuts to two young guys with skinny ties.
“It’s not popular with women,” the maddening ad men continue. “Who even knows what women want anyway? Am I right?”
The camera cuts to a woman rolling her eyes. The maddening ad men go on to suggest that perhaps the guys at CEI, a libertarian think tank, “have just gotten carried away with this liberty stuff.”
Stop fighting subsidized milk, they say. Just apologize!
Of course, the suggestion is that back in Don Draper’s day, no businessman would ever bow to government subsidies or apologize for using the system to make money.
CEI Founder Fred Smith said during the gala that the 21st-century business community is far too apologetic, and he suggested that attitude is something to be ashamed of.
After the 2008 economic downturn, the wars in the Middle East, rampant un- and under-employment and the rise of the Occupy movement, the free marketers seem to be longing for the time when business was king.
“I think there is this element of nostalgia,” said Marin Cogan, GQ’s Washington correspondent who wrote about and attended the CEI event.
“’Mad Men’ is a show where ‘men sell products and goods. They don’t apologize for their capitalism,’ she said. “[Today’s generation of business leaders] came out of this sort of heady time of the 1990s through the aughts, then there were a couple of major market crashes.”