The final seven episodes of Mad Men begin airing in just six weeks, which means the AMC buzz machine surrounding the show has kicked into gear. Last week brought the first teaser pictures and video trailer for season seven’s conclusion, along with the news that Don Draper’s hat and suit are headed to the Smithsonian. And today, before it begins popping up on billboards and in magazine ads, Vulture has the exclusive unveiling of the last official poster for Mad Men — the emblematic image that will forever stand as the graphical representation of season seven’s second half. Series creator Matthew Weiner and AMC marketing chief Linda Schupack agreed to talk to us about the poster. Since the season hasn’t started and Weiner notoriously guards against spoilers, they didn’t reveal anything concrete about what’s to come on the show. But they did discuss five elements of the image and offer hints — teeny, tiny hints — as to what they might mean.
Don is in a car.
This is not an accident. “It’s designed to tell you that Don is going somewhere,” Weiner says. “He could be going to work, he could be going away from work. But there is a feeling of, I hope, a little bit of a desperate drive. We see him in his car, and we see that he’s alone, and I think you just have to basically feel that there’s going to be a sense of motion.” By the way, Don is driving his familiar Cadillac Coup de Ville, Weiner confirms. “That’s Don’s car — the late model Cadillac with the silver and red interior … he was driving at the end of season six.”
The sun is setting behind him.
Weiner won’t reveal too much about what, if any, meaning the sun’s positioning here has: “Is he driving off into the sunset because the show is? It’s the end of a workday, clearly.”
Don’s tie is perfectly tied in all previous Mad Men posters in which we can see him from the front. Not this time. “His collar is loosened; his tie is loosened,” Schupack points out, without explaining what, if any, significance that has. But here’s a hit from Weiner: “He looks a little unwound.”
The rearview mirror.
Don’s glancing at his rearview mirror. Is it an introspective look at himself? Or is someone — or something — behind him? Perhaps it’s symbolic of the show’s end? “I don’t know if you could say he’s looking at the end of the show in his rearview mirror,” Weiner says. “But he’s being pursued, and he’s on his way. He’s in the city — and he’s on his way.”
The image is a composite.
“It’s a period photo in the background, but we shot Jon in his car on the stage,” Weiner explains. “It’s an abstract image, but it is not an abstract photo, if that makes sense.”