In the episode, fictional advertising man Don Draper winds up pitching Hershey’s executives for their business by spinning a tender yarn about how his father’s connection with him resulted in a Hershey’s chocolate bar.
Then, right in the middle of his pitch, he decides to change his mind and tell the truth.
He explains that he actually grew up in a Pennsylvania whorehouse, not knowing his father. He’d pickpocket the johns while the woman who was taking care of him had sex. Some of that money would go towards buying a Hershey bar where, for just a moment, he would taste the “sweetness” of life. He then tells Hershey executives not to advertise.
Draper’s character is built on falsehoods -- and spinning tales. That’s good for the advertising business where one needs to think quickly on your feet.
For decades, companies like Hershey would avoid such real-life comparisons. Hershey, like many other consumer product brands, can be extremely sensitive to so-called non-family content.
One major incident occurred in the late ‘80s, when singer Cher appeared in a not-leaving-much-to-the-imagination outfit during an MTV performance. Hershey had been a major MTV advertiser and, according to reports, then pulled a massive amount of advertising from the network.
More than two decades later, things have changed. Consumer product companies -- especially those careful about content -- may be a little looser with certain associations. Still, many of them probably don’t run ads on AMC, whose other shows involve zombies (“The Walking Dead”), a methamphetamine producer/dealer (“Breaking Bad”) and murder investigations (“The Killing”). AMC’s older, more upscale audience isn’t the target audience for many of these products.
Again, Hershey had nothing to do with the content on “Mad Men,” which was purely a creative producer’s decision.
A Hershey representative reportedly said, "The company was thrilled and incredibly flattered to be part of such a popular television show... Obviously we know that this is a fictitious television show set in the 1960s.”
But, more importantly, Hershey will likely use the episode "to educate our internal workforce to show [the] power of this iconic brand that we get to live with and work with every day."
That includes all kind of associations -- the good, the bad, the ugly, -- and now, the mad.