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At Sterling-Cooper, then Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, landing the big account is the focus, and there are few bigger accounts than airlines and hotel chains.
In the slideshow above, you’ll find a breakdown of the travel accounts that drove the first five seasons of the landmark series.
Season 1, Episode 6
“You’re not thinking of putting a 150-foot statue of Jesus in Tel Aviv are you?” Don says. “Because that’s how we sold Rio.”
In an ideas meeting, Pete offers a then-novel idea: “Maybe we should exploit the danger instead of fighting it: Travel as adventure.”
Salvatore, the art director, says “The only thing this place has going for it is that the people are good looking.”
Season 2, Episode 2
Don immediately moves into damage control for their client, the small regional line Mohawk Air. “We don’t want people opening their morning paper seeing a Mohawk ad next to a picture of a floating engine,” Don says. “The rest of you stop crying and figure out how we’re going to hit the ground running in three weeks with new work.”
Season 2, Episode 4
“American Airlines is not about the past any more than America is,” he says. “Ask not about Cuba, ask not about the bomb, we’re throwing everything out.”
“What does that mean?” Salvatore asks.
Don answers, “Let’s pretend we know what 1963 looks like.”
Season 3, Episode 2
Don wins MSG’s support by telling them how they can challenge opposition to the new complex: “New York City is in decay, but Madison Square Garden is the beginning of a new city on a hill.”
That won the client, but is clearly a joke to anyone who has to travel through the station today.
Season 3, Episode 3
Conrad Hilton makes his appearance. He and Don get to know one another while hiding out behind a bar during a weekend party. Don doesn’t yet know that the father of modern hotels will become a father figure of sorts for the rest of the season.
Season 3, Episode 6
“I don’t think anybody wants to think about a mouse in a hotel,” Don says.
“Well that was my idea,” Conrad replies. “You got anything better?”
And so begins the relationship.
Season 3, Episode 7
“It’s not much to start with, but I look forward to sharing my dreams with you,” Hilton tells Don.
Season 3, Episode 8
To get a sense of how hotels should be run, Conrad sends Don to Rome. Betty makes excellent use of her high school Italian to flirt with, then crush the hopes of two Italians.
Season 3, Episode 9
“It’s my purpose in life to bring America to the world whether they like it or not,” Conrad Hilton tells Don in a late night meeting. “We are a force of good, Don. Because we have god. Communists don’t.”
“After all the things we threw at Khrushchev you know what made him fall apart? He couldn’t get into Disneyland.”
But Conrad and Don’s relationship comes to a head when Don fails to follow exactly what the hotel giant tells him to do. Don gives Conrad everything but the moon, but that’s exactly what Conrad wanted.
Season 3, Episode 13
The Hilton story comes to a close as Conrad tells Don that Sterling Cooper is about to be sold and he’s taking his business elsewhere.
“Some other time we’ll try again,” Conrad says before sending Don off.
Season 4, Episode 7
“We thought that ‘Samsonite’ is this very rare element, this mythical substance, the hardest on earth,” Peggy explains to Don while reviewing sketches.
“Is this substance like ‘bull shit’?” Don says.
They proceed to spend the night drinking, arguing, and coming up with a pitch.
Season 5, Episode 3
Travel was minor in season five, only presenting itself few times in the form of a returned Mohawk Air from the second season “Welcome back, suckers!” Roger Sterling replies. He’s unwavered by the debt the airline has taken on and an impending strike.
“Lane, smile: We’ve got an airline,” Roger says.
Season 6, Episode 1
Later in the episode, this soul-searching culminates in a rather un-Draper-like performance before clients from Sheraton Hotels. Thinking of his own experience, Don pitches Hawaii as a place for transformation taken to the extreme. It’s not just a place to find yourself, or come up with a better plan: The creative for the pitch has an empty suit laying on the beach like a chalk drawing of a murdered man.
Needless to say, Sheraton doesn’t go for it.