London Fog in Mad Men

Lane: London Fog… How ludicrous.

Don: Really? I have one.

Bert: So do I.

Lane: No, of course… It’s just the name. There is no fog in London. There is no London fog.

Bert: Are you sure about that?

Lane: Quite. Never was. It was the coal dust from the industrial era… Charles Dickens and whatnot.

These are the lines from the opening episode of the 3rd season of Mad Men. I’ve covered the Stolichnaya product placement from that episode here, but in my opinion this episode contains also one of the best executions of product placement in recent memory. I’m going to describe some details about it (for those of you, who didn’t watch the episode: go ahead and watch it. Mad Men has been the best TV show for the last few years.).

The dialogue mentioned above happened in Bert Cooper’s office where guys were discussing the (unsuitable) name of American clothing brand London Fog. From British point of view (Lane Pryce, the new CFO, came from the UK) the name was completely wrong, Americans on the other hand thought otherwise.

Gisele Bundchen in London Fog ad

Anyway, during the episode creative director Don Draper and art director Salvatore Romano had to fly to Baltimore for a meeting with the directors of London Fog, who were worried about the sales of their raincoats. During the flight Don and Sal hooked up with stewardesses and then went to a dinner with them. Don had been a typical Don and he eventually ended up with one of them in a hotel room. Meanwhile Sal went to his room alone, but then came the first significant moment of the 3rd season. A bellboy came to his room, there were a few electrifying seconds and the guys started kissing. Unfortunately the fire alarm broke; all guests had to go outside and during that Don had seen them.

Sal and bellboy in Mad Men - S03E01 (2009, AMC, screen capture)

On their flight back to New York Don mentioned his idea about a new London Fog ad to Sal. In that scene we have one of the best examples of product placement in the whole Mad Men series. Don was explaining the ad to an emotionally shattered colleague, who knew that his most kept secret was revealed. In the ad there was a lady, standing in front of the man, wearing only an opened raincoat. Apparently the man could see everything. And then Don delivered the slogan “Limit your exposure”. It’s a brilliant line, not only because it’s a great ad campaign, it’s also an advice for Sal to keep his homosexuality on a low profile. Don, who is made of secrets, is just the right person to deliver the line.

Sketches for the London Fog ad in Mad Men (2009, AMC, screen capture)

London Fog’s product placement ended with the scene in Don’s office where Don, Bert, Peter and Roger were drinking Stoli and scotch. During that scene Bert delivered another great line to sum up the whole placement: “I don’t care what they say… London Fog is a great name.”

What could we say about the product placement? London Fog is an American company and is specialized in coats and other clothes. In the last few years they used several celebrities in their ad campaigns, e.g. Gisele Bundchen, Eva Longoria & Tony Parker. Apparently their placement in Mad Man was paid placement, but nevertheless it was flawless. It included a great beginning, brilliant Baltimore part and another brand dropping for the finale.

The whole product placement was excellent on so many levels:

  • Americans from the Sterling Cooper vs. the Brits from Putnam, Powell & Lowe who bought the agency;
  • American brands (London Fog) vs. British characteristics (London’s fog);
  • Sal’s exposed homosexuality and “Limit your exposure” line and print ad;
  • name dropping in the beginning and at the end of the episode.

In my opinion connecting London Fog and Sal’s homosexuality with the line and ad “Limit your exposure” was just brilliant. Kudos must be paid to Matt Weiner, writer and creator of the show for this product placement masterpiece.

  1. Great catch. i never put together that Don was sending a specific message/advice to Sal, just that he was letting Sal know that everything was going to be OK. I, too, love Weiner’s ability to layer an episode with messages.

  2. Thanks for your comment. One of the actors (I think it was Bryan Batt) once said, that everything Weiner put in the script was deliberate and with some purpose. Every episode is full of hidden messages. If you enjoy Mad Man I would suggest reading Alan Sepinwall’s blog ( His reviews are brilliant.