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Mad Men: It's the McCann-Erickson Way... or the Highway

04/30/2015 06:01 pm ET | Updated Jun 30, 2015

One may have expected it to happen, or perhaps not. After all, Sterling Cooper ad agency became start-up Sterling Cooper Draper Price before Christmas in 1963, a quick move that kept the partners from working at rival McCann Erickson who had bought British ad agency Putnam Powell & Lowe, who had previously owned Sterling Cooper. Then in May 1968 arose the coveted Chevrolet account, which SCDP did secure with help after merging with rival Cutler Gleason & Chaough, to become Sterling Cooper & Partners.

Yet SC&P remained as such for only just over a year. For on the date of July 20, 1969 after watching man's first moon landing on TV, founding partner Bertram "Bert" Cooper dies on the couch in his sleep. Such news quickly propelled partner Roger Sterling to act, by not only dealing with grief from losing a father figure, but also to save business associate and best friend Don Draper's career that was in jeopardy by partner Jim Cutler, who wanted to get rid of Draper. Thus Roger Sterling engineers a merger deal with McCann Erickson to be given a 51 percent stock purchase stake of SC&P with two stipulations, that SC&P be an independent subsidiary, and that Don Draper remain onboard.

McCann Erickson never had any problem with Don Draper, acted by Jon Hamm. In fact, Jim Hobart as CEO of the rival ad agency had tried to lure Don Draper as far back as 1960 in season 1 episode 9. And again in early 1969 in season 7 episode 2. Yet from the recent April 26, 2015 season 7 episode 11 titled, "Time & Life," the rival ad agency makes their move. And this time now in 1970, it's their turn, the partners of SC&P, to be blindsided.

After Roger Sterling, acted by John Slattery, and partner Joan, acted by Christina Hendricks, both find out that it wasn't Dawn the secretary's fault that SC&P did not pay the lease, soon after they hear from McCann Erickson exec Ferguson Donnelly that they all are moving to McCann. "We don't mind paying people, but it seems ridiculous to rent two floors of the Time Life Building when we have plenty of space over here," says the McCann exec over the phone, with Joan listening in close to Roger Sterling in his office. "We're bringing you home," says Ferguson Donnelly afterwards, to which Roger Sterling replies, "This is my home." And that's when the McCann exec tries further to reassure Roger Sterling Jr., whose father Roger Sterling Sr. had originally founded the ad agency with fellow partner Bertram "Bert" Cooper, but to no avail.

Nevertheless, before the Sterling and Donnelly phone conversation, Joan warns not only Dawn, acted by Teyonah Parris, but also two other secretaries Caroline and Shirley to keep a tight lip to head off rumors. Yet afterwards things began happening lighting quick.

Roger storms into Don's office, followed by Joan, and then Pete Campbell, acted by Vincent Kartheiser. And together the four try and find a way to remain SC&P. They all did it before, by heading off McCann Erickson when it bought Putnam Powell & Lowe who then owned Sterling Cooper, with the help of former partner Lane Pryce, to become Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce days before Christmas in 1963. Therefore now with also partner Ted Chaough's help, perhaps they can all do it again.

Meanwhile soon after, Pete Campbell out of professional concern divulges the news to SC&P copy chief Peggy Olson, acted by Elisabeth Moss. She then later tells Stan Rizzo her art director, who always acts as her sounding board. And from then on both confide in each other about their impending future with McCann.

Be that as it may, the recent news does not sit well with Peggy Olson, who soon after privately meets with a head hunter at her apartment with the intention of working at another firm. From there he tells her straight: stay with McCann, at least for a while. He tells her that she does not have an Ivy League degree, which he says most ad firms are attracted to. He then followed that up by stating that after staying with McCann, for no longer than three years, that by 1973, she'll not have only cachet, but also able to command four times her salary. All that however ended with a warning. That if she decides to forgo McCann, that they will remember. "Because word always gets out and McCann is vindictive," the head hunter concludes. And he got that right, for Ken Cosgrove found that out. Only in Cosgrove's case, he managed to spectacularly come out on top in the end, all from my previous Huffpost blog titled, " "Mad Men: That Wily Kenny Cosgrove." For he got more than lucky.

Nevertheless Roger, Don, Pete, Joan, and Ted all come up short this time. That is, after the five failed to convince Jim Hobart and Ferguson Donnelly, that SC&P could become Sterling Cooper West by being a division of McCann-Erickson by operating out of California, from a space to be vacated by former associate Lou Avery. But still, Jim Hobart finishes by telling them they will land the most prestigious of clients including, Buick, Ortho Pharmaceutical, Nabisco and Coca Cola.

The next morning, all the partners round up the employees to divulge the news and to mix it with an optimistic spin. As they are told, "This is the beginning of something, not the end," by then the rumor had done its work, as all the employees reaction is mixed with anger and bewilderment. What a great Mad Men episode.