The March 25 return of Mad Men is still a few weeks away, meaning it’s time for the show to begin promoting itself with symbolic imagery that is both deceptively mundane and yet open to interpretation and contentious debate, as is its wont. This newly unveiled ad for the long-awaited fifth season is, according to Matthew Weiner, a “dreamlike image” reminiscent of Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico, showing Don Draper gazing pensively—as is his own wont—at a couple of display window mannequins and catching his reflection in between. Weiner continues, ”[It’s] a nonverbal representation of where my head is at and where the show will be. By the end of the season, I guarantee you’ll know what it is about.” And his collaborator, AMC marketing VP Linda Schupack, adds that it suggests “Don Draper’s ongoing struggle to define who he is to himself and to those around him”—a struggle that has, in the past, seen Don stripped of all the aesthetically pleasing mid-century furniture that represented his carefully designed image.
This time around, judging by Weiner and Schupack’s comments, this season could see Don’s struggle manifested in his being caught between the longing for a traditional husband role, as represented by the Madison Ave.-approved man in pajamas and slippers, and the empty yet ever-tantalizing mystery of sex with a succession of faceless female partners, as represented by the figure with her dress around her ankles. Or maybe this season, Don Draper is gonna fuck a mannequin.