An old school Portland company is TV famous! A goodly part of the plot of last night's highly anticipated Mad Men Season 4 opener on AMC revolved around century-old Portland swimwear company Jantzen.
Set back in November 1964, the TV show kicks off with Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce gang trying to deal with stodgy representatives from a potential new client—none other than Portland's own Jantzen swimwear. [Side note: In real life, Jantzen was founded by John A. Zehntbauer, Carl C. Jantzen and C. R. Zehntbauer as the Portland Knitting Company, which manufactured heavy sweaters, woolen hosiery and other knit goods, back in 1910.] Turns out that the turn of the century company, famous for its sleek, modest swimwear, is getting trounced by competitors selling teeny bikinis with shockingly salacious ads.
They ask Don Draper to create a new ad campaign for them that will appeal to their upstanding clientele. Big surprise, asking a man who drinks whiskey like water, has as many mistresses as he does neckties and [spoiler!] pays whores to service him on Thanksgiving to tone down the sex appeal in your product, doesn't end well.
Draper calls the Jantzen bunch "prudes" behind their backs
and proceeds to attempt to save their company is a far more interesting and fresh way, possibly changing the course of the entire SCDP firm in the process. Since the majority of the country is obsessed with the '60s era costume drama at this point, I'll just let you watch the season premiere yourself on On Demand or something to find out what happens.
One spoiler: The episode does contain the single best distillation of Betty Draper's personality thus far on the show, courtesy of her snoozy new hubby Henry Francis' hostile mother: "Oh Henry," she sighs. "She's a silly woman.
How can you stand to live in that man's dirt?"
I've got a call in to Jantzen
—which, by the way, makes some fabulously sexy old school swimsuits and is definitely un-prude-y
—to find out what they thought about being used as both a major plot point and
a TV stand in for companies that refuse to change with the times.
Feel free to share your own thoughts about the new season of Mad Men
in the comments below.
Mad Men airs on AMC every Sunday night at 10 pm.
Photos courtesy of amctv.com/originals/madmen and Jantzen.