Mad Men has become as much a part of the advertising world as it is in the fictional realm of Matthew Weiner’s hit television drama. The show has integrated real people and companies like Conrad Hilton while stars Jon Hamm and John Slattery have repeatedly offered their velvety voices to commercials that often run during the AMC series.
The two realities continue to weave in and out of one another in the latest poster promoting the upcoming sixth season. AMC turned to old-school ad illustrator Brian Sanders to create the image, which features one version of Hamm’s Don Draper passing another on a wonky street corner. There’s about a month until the April 9 season premiere, which seems like plenty of time to offer theories as to what the illustration signifies.
The New York Times talked to Sanders about returning to his advertising roots. After poring over illustrations from the time, someone suggested to Weiner that they go with the guy who created many of them: Sanders. They tracked him down in England and set him up with the job. “What it did was take me right back, about 50 years,” Sanders said of the experience.
“The show is telling the history of advertising, and part of that story is about photography completely eclipsing illustration,” Weiner explained. When that happened and the ad work started drying up, Sanders moved over to illustrating book covers for authors like John Steinbeck among a myriad of other projects including doing some drawings for Stanley Kubrick while the director was filming 2001.
“The first one I saw, I had such a déjà vu feeling of place and time,” Sanders said of watching Mad Men. “It wasn’t just in New York that that was happening. It was here too. I almost wanted to reach for a cigarette, and I haven’t had one for 30-odd years.”
The two-hour Mad Men Season Six premiere airs April 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.