Don Draper Did Do Coke

by Lauren Paige Kennedy
Originally Published: 
 Don Draper, in Mad Men's final episode, facing a group of people who are all meditating next to a c...

Mad Men fans, Don Draper did create that iconic Coca-Cola commercial. This from the source himself, showrunner Matthew Weiner.

As reported in today’s Hollywood Reporter, yesterday Weiner sat down with novelist A.M. Homes at the New York Public Library to offer up his promised “decompression” of Sunday’s much-discussed and debated final episode of the acclaimed series.

Here are some of the big reveals reported from that discussion:

1. Yes, the most famous Coke ad of them all was definitely Don’s brainchild.

As our favorite adman ohm-ed with a gang of other retreat-seeking souls on the Northern California coast, a smile crossed his lips. And then fans grinned with delight to watch the 1971 commercial that taught the world to sing, Coke’s iconic 1971 “Hilltop” spot. Weiner reportedly confirmed it was indeed Don’s big idea and mused, “I did think, why not end this show with the greatest commercial ever made?”

2. Please, reject the snarks of the world who see this close as the ultimate in cynical endings.

When the groundbreaking Coke ad first aired, no one, but no one, viewed it in an ironic light. It was trailblazing, even if it was selling a sugary product to the masses. So to the many modern critics out there who imagined Weiner’s surprise was a deft slight of hand, one that allowed him to “have your cake and eat it, too,” they’d be wrong. It was in no way a cynical plot twist to save our leading man from emptiness through rampant consumerism. Nope. According to Weiner, “Five years before that, black people and white people couldn’t even be in an ad together! And the idea that someone in an enlightened state might have created something that’s very pure—yeah, there’s soda in there with a good feeling, but that ad to me is the best ad ever made, and it comes from a very good place. … That ad in particular is so much of its time, so beautiful and, I don’t think, as—I don’t know what the word is—villainous as the snark of today.”

3. The crying man at the retreat was key to the entire series.

The sobbing character named Leonard sitting in the therapy circle was a symbol of the alienated post-war man, and Weiner hopes viewers see him as a reflection of Don himself. “I hope the audience would feel either that he was embracing a part of himself, or maybe them, and that they were heard. I don’t want to put it into words more than that. … I liked the idea where he’d come to this place, and it’d be about other people and a moment of recognition.”

4. Joan’s story surprised Weiner the most.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Weiner never imagined Joan would chase self-actualization. “I thought Joan was gonna go through with that abortion,” he mused to Homes. “I definitely didn’t think Joan would end up this single-mom feminist, looking for childcare. I love the fact that it’s not philosophical for her. I’m not demeaning the philosophy of feminism. I’m just saying this woman made a practical decision not to take any shit anymore. … She biologically loves work.”

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