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Mad Men: SC&P Now Gone, Seismic Disturbances Follows

05/08/2015 12:39 pm ET | Updated May 07, 2016

In the HBO TV series Game Of Thrones season 1 episode 6 titled, "A Golden Crown," master swordsman Syrio Forel of King's Landing hired by Ned Stark, Lord of Winterfell and appointed Hand of the King, teaches his young daughter Arya Stark the deadly art of swordsmanship. During a scene while both practice with wooden swords, he asks her, "Do you pray to the gods?" After she replies, "The old and the new," he then says, "There is only one god, and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death, Not today."

On December 16, 1963, Roger Sterling, Bertram "Bert" Cooper, Don Draper, Lane Pryce, Pete Campbell, Joan Holloway, Harry Crane and Peggy Olson, in the third season finale of the AMC TV series Mad Men, all eight teamed to thwart rival advertising agency McCann Erickson after marshalling their swift actions which said, "Not today." For prior to that, Sterling Cooper ad agency in October 1962 became vulnerable, thereby accepting to be bought by British ad firm Putnam Powell & Lowe of which Lane Pryce was the financial officer. All of which happened while Don Draper, then creative director who was unaware of the merger deal, was away on business in Southern California. Needless to say he was shocked once back at the office.

Therefore on Friday December 13, 1963, when Don Draper finds out from Conrad Hilton of Hilton Hotels that McCann Erickson is about to buy Putnam Powell & Lowe and with Sterling Cooper taken with it, Draper acts swiftly. He gathers all the principals, including Lane Pryce and tells the Englishman that he must fire them all to sever their contracts, fast before Monday. Lane Pryce was also wise to realize then that his career with PP&L was in jeopardy, despite Saint John Powell's reassurances while speaking to Pryce from London during a previous telephone call. So he agrees with Draper, followed by all quickly securing accounts by Sunday to begin a startup agency on Monday, of which Lane Pryce will also be made a partner. Only Ken Cosgrove was not asked to join, only to find out next Monday that all eight former colleagues had left. Thus he stayed behind to be absorbed by McCann. Finally on Monday morning December 16, 1963, Roger, Bert, Don, Lane, Pete, Joan, Harry and Peggy all begin operating in a suite at the swanky Pierre Hotel in New York City. And then, Joan answers the telephone to say, "Good morning, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce." So as SCDP was born on that day having also stopped McCann Erickson, in behalf of SCDP, Joan may as well have also said, "Not today." But that was then.

For as SCDP began as a flyweight size ad agency in a New York hotel suite in late 1963, to growing to Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao welterweight size by moving to a floor of the Time-Life Building in 1964, during the following years, SCDP has had skirmishes with other ad agencies. That is, after having stopped the heavyweight juggernaut McCann Erickson. And one of those ad agencies similar in size to SCDP is called Cutler Gleason & Chaough (CGC). Yet in early 1967, Peggy Olson leaves SCDP to become copy chief at CGC in season 5 episode 11. Though in May 1968, by seeing that SCDP is not big enough to win the Chevrolet account, Don Draper tells Ted Chaough over drinks in a Detroit bar that they should merge to win the account. And that ladies and gentlemen, was how SCDP became SC&P (Sterling Cooper & Partners). Peggy again works with Don, and now SC&P takes up two floors of the Time-Life Building.

Then in the following year there is another merger. For on July 20, 1969 shortly after watching man's first moon landing, SC&P partner Bert Cooper dies peacefully on the couch in his sleep. After hearing the news while dealing with grief, Roger Sterling acts fast to engineer a merger deal with McCann Erickson, so that another fellow partner Jim Cutler would not have the leadership role in the firm. Therefore, the main premise of the merger deal is such that although McCann will have a 51 percent stake, SC&P will remain an independent subsidiary, for all they want are five year contracts from all the partners. All captured in season 7 episode 7.

So it wasn't until 1969 that McCann Erickson had finally gained a foothold into SC&P. But it wasn't to end there. For in season 7 episode 11, now in 1970, Roger Sterling suddenly finds out why SC&P did not pay their lease during a phone call from his office to McCann exec Ferguson Donnelly. The McCann exec then says, "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," while Roger listens with Joan close by his side. Donnelly finishes by saying, "We're bringing you home." To which Roger replies, "This is my home." Nonetheless, that was the day SC&P ceased to exist.

The following episode 12 titled, "Lost Horizon," is meant to be a misnomer, for the episode captures the aftermath brilliantly. The "Lost Horizon" episode is based on the same title of the 1933 novel by James Hilton, in which the story is about a remote place called Shangri-La hidden deep within the snowy Himalayan mountain range, where the inhabitants experience remarkable longevity accompanied with unparalleled bliss. In the previous episode, titled, "Time & Life," CEO of McCann Jim Hobart tells the SC&P partners that they are going to advertising heaven. Yet three of the partners, Roger Sterling, Don Draper, and Joan Holloway all begin to experience otherwise in the "Lost Horizon" episode.

To start, there is the remarkable contrasts of office environments, which reflects differences in corporate cultures between the slender SC&P and the colossal McCann Erickson. At SC&P, the two office floors are airy, tastefully contemporary, yet with colorful touches of mod styling. It is also an environment which invites collaborative chaos. People think nothing of storming into each other's close by offices at SC&P. And the main meeting room is see-through, though can be enclosed by curtains for privacy. At McCann, the offices and corridors, are basically boring monochrome. The corridors also look confining, as if seeing a scene from The Maze Runner.

Whereas SC&P was collaborative chaos, McCann Erickson is command and control. Don Draper experiences this after walking into the conference room for the Miller Beer account. As he sees a phalanx of execs, he asks, "Is this every creative director in the agency?" To which Ted Chaough answers, "This is only half." Then as Don observes all the execs acting in robotic unison while listening to the speaker during the meeting, he leaves, while Ted watches.

Joan then confides in her boyfriend Richard while both are in bed about her bad first day. After listening, he says, "There's two ways I deal with disagreeable people." He says the first way, use lawyers, but the second and most effective, you call the right guy. For later she ends up having a showdown with CEO Jim Hobart, shortly after she tells Ferg Donnelly who later tries to make a play for her, that a McCann exec had botched her account. So look for Richard to act, supposedly in the series finale, after Joan forced to agree to leave with half her ownership stake!

Don, Roger and Joan are all experiencing somewhat, how Ken Cosgrove must have felt while working at McCann. Though he later quit to work for them again at SCDP in season 4 episode 6.

Yet speaking of Roger, the best scenes I believe are with him and Peggy Olson. Believing she's all alone within the vacated offices of SC&P, she hears organ music. Which spooks her. It's Roger, who then invites her to a drink. She then seems initially uncomfortable, to which he replies, "You think you're gonna have this much fun over there?" They talk some, and then she's later seen blissfully roller skating while he's playing the organ, memorable. Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss and the rest, all gave Emmy worthy performances in the recent May 3, 2015 "Lost Horizon" episode. I will miss Mad Men.