Yes, Mad Men's Don Draper Created the "I'd Like to Give the World a Coke" Ad [Updated with grim reminder of M*A*S*H's terrible finale]


If you watched the series finale of Mad Men last night and were wondering just which character came up with the famous Coke commercial that runs at the end of the show, here's a strong case that it was Don, channeling some of the feelings and hippie vibe from the encounter group he joined:

I enjoyed the finale (and the whole series, for reasons sketched here). The Daily Beast's Marlow Stern was disappointed:

And then we see Don meditating with a group of hippies by the water. Ommmmm.Ommmmm. He cracks a smile. The action abruptly cuts to the 1971 "Buy the World a Coke" commercial depicting a group of multicultural teens singing the tune "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)" on top of a hill in Manziana, Italy. Commissioned by McCann-Erickson, it came with a price tag of $250,000, making it the most expensive commercial to date, and became wildly popular. 

So it truly is the end of an era. Weiner has shut the door on the "good ol' days" of the '60s and provided a gateway to the decades of social and political upheaval and multiculturalism that will follow. Don has transformed from a closed-minded "Master of the Universe" to one of the enlightened ones and, inspired by his retreat (ding), has returned to McCann to create one of the most celebrated ads ever. Yes, everything, even our personal moments of clarity, can be co-opted by industry and turned for profit.

Worth reading.

One thing I think Stern misses in his reading is that the whole show is predicated upon the denial of a sharp distinction between integrity and art, that there is even such a thing as "selling out" when it comes to creative expression. That's why the show was set in an ad agency and why all of the creative characters quickly abandon the pursuit of literary fiction or fine art (when they evince them at all). Some clients are better than others and consumers are always fickle. But among the many fault lines in the show, the art/commerce distinction simply doesn't exist. Which is one of the reasons Mad Men was refreshing. Like the Pop Art era that it partly chronicles, one of its most interesting ideas is precisely the notion that art and creative expression can somehow be de-linked from commercial pressures and expectations is bullshit cooked up in the Romantic era, mostly by artists with trust funds or deep-pocketed patrons. Rather, art and commerce are inextricably linked, especially in popular forms that seek an audience in a marketplace.

More on that Coke ad/song.

What series finales were great (Breaking Bad) and which sucked (Seinfeld)? Answer in the comments and, as always, BE NICE.


Updated: Several commenters mentioned the series finale to M*A*S*H, which indeed does take the cake as the Worst. Final. Episode. Ever. Or at least, let's hope. Along time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I wrote about M*A*S*H's decline for A snippet:

Watching M*A*S*H reruns in sequence is like watching a friend die a slow and painful death….The later episodes are so ham-handed and rotten, in fact, that it makes you hate the early shows for being the petri dish from which this virus grew. When it came time for the flatulent, pretentious two-hour finale, what viewer wasn't rooting for the North Koreans to overrun the camp and torture, mutilate, and kill everyone associated with the good old 4077?

Read "Rerunning on Empty" here.

NEXT: Jacob Sullum on the Moral, Legal, and Scientific Scandal That Is Marijuana Prohibition

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  1. This seems like a spoiler.

    1. Meh. It’s a spoiler for a show I still can’t bother to give a damn about.

      1. To paraphrase Raymond Chandler, “An advertising agency is the most elaborate waste of human intelligence outside of chess.”

        1. Yeah, I’ll bet Chandler was real bent out of shape when advertising helped bring paying viewers into his movies and buyers for his books. Typical leftist shithead hypocrisy.

      2. Agreed. Tried a few episodes and thought the dust collecting on my keyboard was more interesting.

    2. How can it be a spoiler for a show that ended the night before?

  2. Answer in the comments and, as always, BE NICE.

    As always?

    1. Does he read any of the comments? Unless someone’s taking a vacation to France, Nice doesn’t even have relevence.

      1. If you do go to Nice, be sure and visit Dr. August Balls.

    2. It’s an acronym: Not Inclined to Criticize Entertainment.

      1. Nice.

  3. I still wanted the theory that Don Draper was DB Cooper to come true.

    It was… meh, as endings go.

    Though I may need to re-watch, since I was still in a mentally broken daze from Game of Thrones.

    1. GOT last night reached levels of stupidity and suckitude that were previously unimaginable. As a fan of the books I don’t know how much more I can take.

      1. As a fan of the books Well, there’s your problem. I can’t comment on the recent series (Haven’t seen any of it), but I went into the rest of it without having read a line of Martin’s work. My main issue so far has been people dropping spoilers and whining about “in the books…”

        1. Part of the problem is that the show writers are not as good as GRRM, and it shows. And the deviations they make detract from the plotlines, they don’t add to them. And most of the non-book shit they make up is stupid and makes little sense in the context of the already-existing plotlines they started out with. etc etc. I could take deviations from the books if it made sense, and enhanced, or at least didn’t make foolish, the already-established plotlines. Sadly, that is not the case.

          1. Funny, the episodes I find least entertaining are those with a Martin writing credit (without subtitles, I’m still not reading his words. I was going to make a subtitle joke in my prior post, but removed it)

          2. Part of the problem is that the show writers are not as good as GRRM, and it shows

            No, the problem is that people are finally waking up to the fact that you can’t have a TV series that’s supposedly compressed into a relatively small time frame of less than a decade and except a sprawling epic without 1) spending even more gobs of cash than HBO is currently shelling out (keep in mind that production costs are what killed “Rome” after two seasons) or 2) severely truncating and twisting what the book fans consider to be essential material before the Stark kids are old enough to sire their own broods.

            And if you want to blame someone for that, blame Martin for mostly fucking around the last 15 years instead of writing the series, and blame his editor for not reining his Robert Jordan storytelling tendencies and keeping him on task.

            1. Yup. Personally, I think Martin is just bored with the series and would rather move on to something else without bothering to finish it, so he handed it off to HBO so he doesn’t have to deal with it. That’s his right, of course, but it’s soured me on him and his books.

              Kudos to him for writing three great books, but the last two were underwhelming and frankly I don’t think he knows how to get to the ending he has in mind and was given far too much leeway from his publishers. Like you said, the man needs a stronger editor but, given his personality, I suspect if his publisher tried to push that on him, he’d just half-ass it out of spite and then blame the publisher for the lack of quality.

          3. Huh. I found books 4 and 5 boring as shit and am enjoying the show this season. Go figure.

            1. Book Four sucked balls. They just skipped half of it by cutting out brienne’s fucking endless trek all over Westeros looking for Sansa. We’re mostly in Book Five now.

              1. Everyone says that, but I quite liked book 4. For some reason that’s where I really got into it. Just started the 5th book.

          4. We’ll some of this suff might be stuff that is yet to happen in the books.
            The Sansa plotline I suspect is book six.

            1. It is, but it has her staying in the Vale and trying to get with the guy who will become Lord of the Vale if/when Robert Arryn dies.

              1. Forgot to add – a preview chapter depicting this has already been shared by GRRM.

                1. Well, that’s roughly where Book Five ends, but I just think it would be to wildly divergent from the major plot points of the novel to put he way over in Winterfell. So i’m guessing she ends up there later at some point.

                  If I turn out to be wrong then I will take all this back.

          5. Was hopping for naked Sansa. Very disappointed.

            1. Considering actress Sophie Turner is 18 (and younger in the books), I guess they figured that would be too exploitative. Most shows prefer not to graphically depict the rape of a teenager…and I can’t really blame them for that.

              1. Plus, Sophie Turner is just starting her career and may not have wanted to be defined by that scene. Like Michael Madsen in the razor blade scene in Reservoir Dogs or Ted Levine doing the tuck dance in Silence of the Lambs…shocking scenes tend to define actors and can typecast them if they don’t have a more diverse body of work to fall back on.

          6. Meh. I think the GOT show is actually better than books 4 and 5.

        2. My main issue so far has been people dropping spoilers and whining about “in the books…

          This. I enjoy the show, haven’t read the books. I’ve had enough of the book whiners though.

          1. They’re just angry because they’re going to have to wait for several more years for Martin to release the next book (because he’d rather write some other series) and he’s a condescending dick to anyone who asks about it.

            As far as I’m concerned, it’s HBO’s story now, because Martin is unlikely to finish the books. Most of the people complaining about the TV series just haven’t come to grips with that.

            1. ^This. At this point, I have lost interest in GRRM’s books and just look forward to how the show will finish the story. GRRM fucked the pooch on this and he has no one else to blame but himself.

      2. I’m just watching in hope that before the end of the season either Stannis kills both Boltons or Theon re-grows his balls and slowly tortures Ramsay to death.

      3. I have NOT read the books, but it hasn’t stopped me from wanting to throw shit at the screen.

        The Loris thread is fucking horrible.

        1. I have NOT read the books, but it hasn’t stopped me from wanting to throw shit at the screen.

          The Loris thread is fucking horrible.

          Exactly what I was talking about.

        2. What’s the Loris thread?????

          You mean Loras?

          That is going to turn out to be awesome, just wait.

      4. Thrones is great it’s one of best television series ever created your not going to get everything the books have too much information impossible to cover that much … Everyone upset about what happened to Sansa but its Ramsey he’s a different kind of sick
        (I mean what else were we expecting from him)we thought she had it bad being with Joffrey things can always get worse …

        1. The one thing that bothers me is I feel like she’s still being punished for being such a bitch to Arya in Season 1. I think she’s been punished enough.

          1. It just depends on what kind of fairytale you’re talking about. Germanic fairytales had some pretty dark stuff in them.

    2. What, you thought Sansa was going to have a fairytale wedding? Really?

    3. GoT spoiler:
      R + L = J

  4. Best: Sopranos
    Worst: TNG

    1. Sopranos was great. I still think the worst ever was Seinfeld.

      1. Meh, giving Seinfeld a conclusion was always going to betray the philosophy of the show.

        1. As far as I can tell their ‘philosophy’ was ‘annoy the crap out of the audience until they change the channel or ragequit the room if they can’t.

        2. I agree, and given that fact they probably did about as well as they possibly could. The parade of random old characters was good for a laugh, and they all ended up the same as when they began – talking about shirt buttons. No one grew, no one changed, no one learned anything. Didn’t make for a great series finale but it was true to the show.

      2. Curb Your Enthusiasm is better than Seinfeld.

    2. Enterprise was the worst ever. It’s own cast hated it.

      1. I just pretend the final episode of that show never happened. It ended with the episode previous.

  5. What series finales were great (Breaking Bad) and which sucked (Seinfeld)? Answer in the comments and, as always, BE NICE.

    I can’t even sit through part of an episode of Seinfeld without becoming angry at the obnoxious characters. Having a bullet put in the brain of that show was the best thing that could have happened. I just wish the characters had suffered more before the end credits.

    I am at an inherent disadvantage on this topic, however, because I watch so little television, and most of what I used to watch died without the dignity of a proper finale.

    1. a million times this re: Seibfeld. a shit show by a shit comedian.

      1. Yeah. I could never get into that show.

    2. I like Seinfeld. Or did, I haven’t seen it in a long time.

      I like comedies where the characters are all terrible people and are never redeemed and the writers make no attempt to insert any drama into the show.

    3. Did you ever see a doctor about that stick up your ass? If Seinfeld pissed you off, you really might want to stay away from Always Sunny.

      That’s like getting mad at Meatwad on ATHF.

  6. Worst: Battlestar Galactica
    Worst: Battlestar Galactica

    1. I just pretend that the series ended ambiguously after the first half of the final season.

      1. I just pretend it ends after the “I want to see in X-rays” speech.

    2. you talking about the new version?

    3. Babylon 5 ranks pretty high up there.

      1. Babylon 5 ranks at or near the top beginning, middle, and end. The biggest issue was that the Season 5 renewal was so late that the last season was weaker than it should have been, since JMS wanted to have a proper ending and pulled a lot of material up to Season 4 on the premise that it would be the last.

      2. Babylon 5 was the greatest sci fi show ever. Nothing else comes close.

        1. Shit, forgot about Firefly.

    4. Bears, beets, Battlestar Gallactica

    5. Second.

  7. With Harry Shearer leaving, I predict the Simpsons finale will be the worst.

    If Serenity counts as the Firefly finale, then I’ll say that was the best.

    1. He’s not quite out yet.

  8. Who gives a rat’s ass?

    1. Elizabethan Ratcatchers were paid by the rat, which they proves by providing tails. So they’d be your go-to guy for a rat’s ass.

      1. Or were those Victorian rat-catchers? Damnit, now I’m going to have to look it up.

  9. This my friend is why we roll with the punches. WOw.

  10. Agreed on Serenity if it counts as Firefly’s conclusion, but either way that show was 5-7 years too short.

  11. Though perhaps not groundbreaking, I thougt Justified’s conclusion was well done.

    1. Came in here to say this. It’s not even been two months, folks! Justified was a great show, and the ending was just about perfect.

      1. *****spoiler*****

        I cannot believe that Art killed Raylan and was secretly running criminal operations in Kentucky the entire time!

  12. Lost was godawful. By contrast, I really, really enjoyed Boardwalk Empire’s finale despite the fact that its entire last season was an afterthought because Terrance Winter clearly gave up on the show when it didn’t get showered with Emmy’s like The Sopranos did.

  13. While on the topic of finales, I would like to point out the major failing of the ‘Tommy Westphal Universe’ postulate from the ending of St Elsewhere. The basis by which shows got included within this kid’s head was based upon a web of crossovers. My question is, why would these appearances imply that the other shows exist in his head. Within that episode, he included ‘real’ people from his life into the imagined events at St Elsewhere. So the assumption that there is no ‘real’ hospital has already broken down as he may not have invented everything incorporated in that daydream.

  14. Best ever: Sopranos!

    1. Yeah, actually. You just have to figure out that Tony Soprano got shot in the head. Hence the cut to black.

  15. I tried Coke in the early 80s. It doesn’t last very long. It’s very expensive. And, ultimately, it made me feel sad and my nose hurt.

  16. I thought it was pretty obvious it was Don.
    He goes on this long trek across America involving race cars and hippie cults and comes back and takes all his experiences and makes ads.

  17. Babylon 5 was a good finale, actually enjoyed the finale of Sons of Anarchy. How I Met Your Mother was crap.

    1. In Valen’s Name! Best Sci-Fi series WITH a story line.

      1. Some scenes and episodes in B5 were cringe worthy and it desperately needed better directing, but JMS pulled off a winner with the series.

        1. True. Nobody bats 1.00.

    2. Seriously????? The last half of the last season of Babylon 5 was people moping around about the place being mothballed. It was the most boring shit ever. OMG! The series is ending!! Now we have to say goodbye to every bolt in the fucking hull ! Every fucking minor character has to have their swan song!

      1. Season 5 doesn’t count.

    3. How I Met Your Mother Took Eight Years to Hook Up with Aunt Robin was crap.


    4. Sorry, but the last season of B5 was so over the top stupid that it was barely watchable.

  18. The most unique, and for me the Best, was the Bob Newhart show finale with Suzanne Pleshette.

    Only Bob could pull it off.

    1. St. Elsewhere is in there, somewhere, too.

    2. Haha…can’t believe I forgot “Newhart”. 🙂

    3. “Newhart” had the best ending ever.

      “The Bob Newhart Show” had a pretty good ending too. In my top 5 at least.

  19. and, as always, BE NICE.

    Oh, Nick. Never give up on hope.

    1. It’s like Captain America warning us about “Language!”

  20. “Yes, everything, even our personal moments of clarity, can be co-opted by industry and turned for profit.”

    Maybe industry and profit are part of our “personal moments”. This twit makes it sound as if trade was some vile system landed here by aliens.

    1. Oops. That wasn’t very nice.

  21. Sons of Anarchy was pretty terrible. Jax as Jesus Christ, sacrificing himself for the MC….then again, the last two or three seasons were so bad that it was my own fault for sticking with it to the end.

    1. Yeah, talk about a show that went completely off the rails. The first three seasons were so well done that the fans ended up sticking through four seasons of increasingly horrible shows.

      Kurt Sutter must have a derivative of Ryan Murphy disease where he starts off strong and ends up producing garbage in relatively short order. I read the Rolling Stone interview with him and he comes off as a borderline psychotic. I can’t imagine what Katey Sagal sees in him.

    2. I exclude Sons of Anarchy from worst ever only because it showed Gemma dead. She was horrible.

      Definitely one of the most pretentious finales ever…but I don’t think it comes close to being worst.

  22. Seinfeld’s finale was actually great if you paid attention to the underlying message. The characters were, and always would be, terrible people. The finale emphasized this and showed that they hadn’t grown as people, not even one tiny bit. It was hilarious. It was a show about nothing, and nothing happened.

    They even end it with the same conversation they had in the very first show.

    Best, though? Breaking Bad. It ends just how it should, right when it should.

    Worst? Probably Dexter.

    1. Lost was worse than Dexter (which had declined significantly for the last couple seasons anyway).

      1. I never watched that show. Didn’t it turn out that they were still on a plane, but trapped in purgatory and doomed to perpatually jump the shark for all eternity?

  23. Oh, and worst ending?
    2013 NFC championship game.

    1. 1994 NFC Championship Game

  24. Don Draper: “Listen to me?You have to be strong. Peggy, the hardest thing in the 60s?is to live in them. Be Brave.”

  25. Joan: “I have a message?Roger Sterling’s plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan?it spun in. There were no survivors.”

  26. Best series finale ever: “Six Feet Under”

    Worst series finale ever: “Seinfeld”

    1. Honorable Mention for best finale ever: “St. Elsewhere” (because it was just straight bizarre and creative and awesome)

      Dishonorable Mention for worst finale ever: “Deadwood” (because it didn’t get an ending)

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  28. My favorites: Breaking Bad, Newhart
    Least favorite: Dexter, Seinfeld, St. Elsewere

  29. Actually, Parks and Rec may have had one of the best finales I’ve seen outside of Breaking Bad. I especially enjoyed where Councilman Jamm ends up.

    Probably not a favorite show for this crowd though.

    1. It was a favorite show before they neutered Ron Swanson and decided that Leslie was the bringer of truth.

    2. I see a lot of love for the show around here, actually; but I thought it declined painfully especially in seasons four through six. P&R’s final season was actually better than the preceding ones, but the finale was incredibly self-indulgent and saccharine. I didn’t hate it, but they could’ve done a little better.

      The worst part about the finale for me, though, was after seven seasons of meticulously never mentioning any character’s political party (even Ron is only a little-l libertarian), they go ahead and name the lead characters as Democrats. It to me was the culmination of the show’s general trend of leaning further and further to the left as the seasons went on. Episodes like “Soda Tax” and “Sex Education” and “Pie Mary” just felt preachy and condescending as hell. Even when I agree with the general premise (as in “Sex Education”) it still doesn’t excuse the soapboxing. P&R was at its worst when it was preaching politics and knocking down straw men, and the finale was the conclusion of that facet of the show as it was with all others as well, so I guess it was inevitable that the finale for me would be a little flawed.

  30. (The wire, breaking bad) two of the best series endings

    Worst of all time – Dexter

  31. wow, Nick you’re really into this show.

  32. “Monk” had a great series finale. After slowing down for several seasons of wheel-spinning, the latter part of the last season actually started to lay some of its plotlines to rest, and the finale actually brought Monk some long-deserved peace. I actually like that Trudy wasn’t killed as part of some grand conspiracy, but for the same stupid reasons as almost every other perp Monk has faced. After eight seasons of Monk, and the audience, assuming it was all about him, in the end it was just the petty act of a corrupt man, just like every other murder.

    And while we’re on the subject of USA, I’ve never liked Burn Notice’s finale. It was a tedious end to an entirely unnecessary season, and the “happily ever after” ending did not fit the show’s character at all. I prefer to just pretend the show actually ended at the finale of the preceding season, with Westen putting his job first as he has consistently done every single time, and Fi heartbroken. At least that ending had some emotional complexity and depth to it.

  33. Best:

    Babylon 5
    Eureka (the “inside joke” about having the ending pulled up was classic)
    St. Elsewhere


    Battlestar Galactica

    Seinfeld wasn’t great, but not terrible; the plot was stupid but a nice way to get everyone back, and the last regular scene, coming full circle, was nice.

    Sopranos had a “Tale of Two Cities Ending”; it was the best of endings, it was the worst of endings.

  34. I’d have to vote for Dexter as the worst finale ever. At least with M*A*S*H the trajectory was fairly obvious; I actually thought the end of Dexter was a joke at first.

  35. Weak
    -Charlie Sheen

  36. No Sh*t, Nick.
    How much therapy did it take to reach that conclusion?

  37. Worst ever? Best Ever? I’m not sure, because I didn’t watch the series.

    But having not watched the series, Blake 7’s ending was just too weird.

    Oh, ok, I’ve never watched this, let’s see what happens.

    So who are the characters here? Oh. Wait. He’s dead. And he’s dead. And he’s dead. They’re all dead. What kind of freaking show is this? Who are the characters?

    Turned out it was the final episode, and all the main characters (that I could tell) died. If anyone actually watched the series and the series final, I’d be interested in your rating of that last episode.

  38. I did like the helicopter falling on Doctor Robert ‘Rocket’ Romano and killing him and his new arm. I had quit watching the show a few years before that but watched the finale and was very satisfied.

    Supernatural had a pretty cool finale but then they brought the show back so I don’t know if that counts.

    Alan Alda still irritates me 20 years later. Lately all my FB friends have been sharing the screen shot from the MASH finale and the general consensus there is that it was televisions most heartbreaking episode.

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  40. I’m scanning the comments about worst finales ever, yet I see no mention of the snow globe scene from the finale of ‘St. Elsewhere’. How can that be?

    (Please be gentle – I’m new to posting on Reason).

    1. Nevermind – I guess I didn’t get far enough down the comments.

      What a shitty way for me to start posting on the site.

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