Is the Mad Men Season 5 Poster in bad taste?

Mad Men Season 5 Poster Jon Hamm 9/11 New York

On March 25th Mad Men comes back to AMC with their 5th season, so naturally the network is getting its promotional engines warmed up. As part of their marketing material, they have released a minimalist promotional poster for the new season that features a silhouetted man in a suit falling on a white-to-light-gray gradient background with just the words “March 25” along the bottom. The image is graphically striking in its simplicity, but according to sites like Salon and Wet Paint, the poster is causing a bit of controversy from folks who think it is an obvious reference to 9/11.

If you’ve watched the show, you probably remember the animated title sequence of the show with its retro minimalism and desperate psychological tension. You probably also remember that the action that unites the sequence is the image of a man in free fall.

So, the new poster doesn’t come out of nowhere. It pushes the minimalism even farther by “filling” most of the space with a blank white field. There is no title. No commentary. No explanation. And, yet, if you haven’t been living under a rock for the last 4 years, you probably know exactly what it is all about.

So, what’s the problem? Well some people who have seen the ad are reminded of 9/11 and the tragic deaths of those who threw themselves out the windows of the twin towers.

On one hand, I see what they mean. The pain of 9/11 is still very fresh, and that specific part of the tragedy is particularly awful. On the other hand, this is simply a reworking of the same images the show has been running since its premiere. There’s nothing new here, really, except editing. (In all honesty, the falling man always brought to mind Black Monday or Tuesday for me, the October 1929 days when the stock market took a massive dive and was the starting mark of The Great Depression. A lot of stockbrokers jumped out of windows to their death after the stock market plummeted.) That being said, I tend to side with the poster at Reddit who shared the WetPaint article linked above by adding this parenthetical to the title: (Really guys?)

What do you think? Was the poster meant as a reference to 9/11?

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  • lani

    people complain about nothing.. soon we’ll be watching ‘G’ rated shows that bleep about the word ‘damn’.

  • no

    People need to chill. They’re being absurd.

  • D

    Seriously? I think that’s a bit of a stretch. And who is complaining? I’ve seen the poster on many websites and read the comments and haven’t seen ANYONE complain?

  • Od2be2003

    Why exactly would they make a reference to 9-11 when this show takes place in the 60’s? That would make no sense. When I saw it I immediately thought of the opening sequence of the show, which is where this is obviously from. It would make absolutely zero sense to make any reference to 9-11 with anything involving this show. Attention 9-11 victims (or anyone who claims to be a victim because they were alive that day)!: EVERYTHING IS NOT ABOUT 9-11, OR IN REFERENCE TO IT. It’s time to stop thinking like everything is, it’s child-like and getting old!

  • K

    The falling man has been part of the intro for the last four seasons and now people are concerned? Get a grip!

  • Sara

    PFFT! People are crazy nowadays….There’s almost nothing on this poster, how can they analyse it like that?!

  • muskokariverhouse

    great ad – keeps with the flow of what Man Men is all about…
    skillfully witty … great team of artists linked to the Man Men series…
    so looking forward to season 5…

  • ER

    I don’t see how this is 9-11 related at all. The opening credits are the same figure jumping from a window. I look at this and think of the credits. I would assume the people who don’t like this are also the people who don’t like the show.

  • March 25th has nothing to do with 9/11. Glad this article points out the fact that this basic image is what the show’s been using all along. Maybe “Mad Men” producers put this rumor out about a 9/11 uproar to hype up season 5.

  • Amy

    What is black Monday? 9/11 was a Tuesday.

    • Dave

      Exactly Amy, maybe the author did this on purpose to show us that it has been 10+ years since that terrible tuesday morning but we have to move on!!!!! Mad Men is a terrific show, can’t wait fr season 5.

    • Starcasm Staff
  • D

    Black Monday is the day the stock market crashed and the Great Depression started (basically).

  • C

    i’m not seeing the relation here at all!

  • amy

    why doesn’t it remind anyone of people jumping out of windows during the stock market crash/great depression?? people try so hard to find a way to be offended, it’s so freaking annoying.

  • yeti

    I always took the falling man as a metaphor for everyone’s lives at the ad agency, specifically Don Draper.

  • Lou


  • LKJH

    Did you know that every time Sulu was shown at the helm of the Enterprise, it was a veiled reference to Pearl Harbor? No, really!

  • Bruce

    Who are these “people” anyway??? Or is it one nutter causing a raucous?

  • s6xshotta

    ****ing stupid Americans!!
    When will they get over 9/11?
    The amount of casualties that die in war and other conflicts even today seem to still pale into insignificance 11 years on.

    Oh no look theres a falling leaf ….it reminds me of 9.11
    Oh I can’t stand fireworks in the new year….it reminds me of 9.11
    Oh pls put that cigarette out, the smoke from it reminds me of 9.11….Get over it, you are not the only country in the freaking world and certainly not the only people who have experienced loss in this way!!!

    • LawLz

      First off. Let me say, who are you to tell someone what to think. Second off, stupid F’n Americans huh…..well lets put it this way, something of that magnitude has NEVER happened on US soil. It is a painful trigger to anyone who lived around or had friends/family involved in the whole situation. This has nothing to do with comparing losses of a given country or wars fought. It was simply a comparsion and reference. The views of a few does not reflect the masses, as you can see in the abundance of other posts about this ad. So stop with your chlidish name calling and whining and bs references to what we relate to that dark day in AMERICAN history. Go live back under your rock. Im sure you are probably from the UK judging by your ridiculous comparsions and assumptions. Have you lived through a Terrorist attack of that magnitude? Did you lose loved ones in the attack? I am going to go out on a limb and say NO.

      Thats why here in America, we have freedom of speech, we can express it how we see fit. So S.T.F.U. and last thing people like you “s6xshotta” are a waste of breath and waste of life. And you are exactly whats wrong with this world. PEOPLE have opinions and voice them. Dont smack them down for it. Smack the author for publishing something so dumb, that doesnt really deserve the attention.

  • nyfan

    As a New Yorker and a Mad Men fan, my first reaction WAS a flash to 9/11, and the memory of the famous falling man photo. When I saw the poster I thought, “What the–?” and did not understand the March date connected to it. After about a minute I remembered MM’s new season was starting soon and that this graphic was connected to the opening credits, and I thought it was a clever poster. But it did give me pause at first and I did wonder if others have had the same reaction. I do like the ad, though. but I imagine people with personal ties to the events will not, and certainly they don’t have to.

  • Helen

    I lived near 911, and was definitely affected by it, but never did nor do I now equate MM with 911. The free falling man I felt was a metaphor for the parameters in which Don operated under, as well as the dynamics of ad agencies in that era. Men in that era were free falling in everything they did, spoke off, etc…the show is filled with every stereotype of the era and so forth….that’s my perspective oh no the free falling man: no restraints, no operating parameters, no restrictions. 911 victims should not view everything SOLELY from their victimized perspectives, life does have to continue and it’s equally not fair to make the rest of the world personal adversaries because they are moving oh no. It’s not personal. I don’t want my children, friends, and family to stop enjoying life just because I pass on, and you shouldn’t want that either, for anyone.

  • Hawkeye

    Anyone who knows that the show takes place in the 1960s knows that it couldn’t possibly have any reference to 9/11. Of course, when my wife and I first saw the opening sequence it did remind us of 9/11 – how could it not? We are New Yorkers and experienced it first hand. Nevertheless, I don’t think it was intentional, and I’m amazed at how some people get all hot and bothered and carry on about this on both sides of the argument. Relax people, it’s just a TV show.

  • Ed

    It is an image. The brain, in order to process its meaning goes through pattern matching. If you are a fan of the show, it stops there, and associates the poster with the show. You recognize it. You smile.

    If you are not a fan of the show, or even familiar with the ads for the show, you don’t recognize it as such and keep searchihg your memories. Obviously, for some, the next closest match comes from reality, not entertainment. they see a 9-11 image.

    It is understandable, but as has been already said in this thread, move on.

    From the Mad Men slant…. look at how long we were talking about Mad Men as a result of the controversy! reminds me of the ad for the VW Bug in one of the episodes! Go on! Laugh at yourself!

  • Charmer

    It obviously wasn’t meant as a reference to 9/11 (as we all know, that image is in the opening credits for Mad Men). But at the same time, I can definitely see this ad conjuring up bad memories.

    I would say that just for NYC, they should change the image to something else. Th rest of the cities should be fine though.

  • pflodo

    It is amusing that Americans who generally don’t give shit about each other are so worried about what each other thinks or would get upset about…