Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency

"Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency"
Mad Men episode

The shirts of Sterling Cooper employees are splattered with blood after the tragic lawn mower accident. This scene has been cited by critics as one of the most memorable scenes from Mad Men.
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 6
Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter
Written by Robin Veith
Matthew Weiner
Original air date September 20, 2009 (2009-09-20)
Episode chronology

"Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency" is the sixth episode of the third season of the American television drama series Mad Men, and the 32nd overall episode of the series. It was written by series creator and executive producer Matthew Weiner and Robin Veith, and directed by Lesli Linka Glatter. It originally aired on the AMC channel in the United States on September 20, 2009.

The employees of Sterling Cooper prepare for an upcoming visit from the British owners of the company. Joan discovers some deeply unsettling news as she prepares for her last day in the office. During the visit, a tragic (and comedic) accident changes the life and career of one man forever. Meanwhile, Sally is having trouble adjusting to life with Baby Gene and without her grandfather.

"Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency" is considered by some as one of the best episodes of Mad Men. It was recognized with nominations and wins from industry awards. The director of the episode, Lesli Linka Glatter, won a 2009 Directors Guild Awards for her work on the episode. The episode was also nominated for writing and directing at the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards.


The Sterling Cooper employees are dismayed to learn of the imminent arrival of their bosses from London, who will arrive on Joan's final day in the office. That night, Joan's husband Greg arrives after a night of drunken self-loathing. He admits to Joan that he has been rejected for the title of Chief Resident, and that Joan will have to return to work. After Joan asserts that she can't return to Sterling Cooper, Greg demands that she find a new job.

The London-based Putnam, Powell, and Lowe executives arrive at the Sterling Cooper office on the day of Joan's surprise party. One of the executives is a young up-and-comer named Guy MacKendrick (Jamie Thomas King), poised to replace Lane Pryce as Sterling Cooper's Chief Operating Manager while Lane is reassigned to Bombay, India. Ken and the other office employees get up to hijinks with a John Deere riding mower after Ken signs their account. Office secretary Lois takes the machine for a spin, but runs it over Guy's foot, severely mauling it and spraying blood all over the Sterling Cooper employees and the office. As the other employees give way to hysteria, Joan calmly attends to Guy. Don and Joan share kind words at the hospital, as the Putnam, Powell and Lowe executives mourn over the young Guy MacKendrick's career, lamenting that the boy could no longer work clients with a missing foot; as a result Lane retains his position at Sterling Cooper. Don is aghast at how quickly the executives disregard Guy's career.

Sally is having trouble adjusting to the presence of Baby Gene, waking up in the middle of the night to night terrors. Don implores Betty to change the name, because of both Sally's discomfort and his poor relationship with Grandpa Gene. Betty refuses to dishonor her father by changing the name. Don then comforts Sally, and tells her that Baby Gene has a clean slate in life, and is not anyone yet.


Critical reception

The episode received critical acclaim from television journalists and critics. Alan Sepinwall, writing for New Jersey's The Star-Ledger, called it "one of the best Mad Men episodes ever" and the "highlight of Season 3 to date". Sepinwall also opined that it was one of the series' funniest episodes yet, while also working as a "dramatic marvel" and having considerable shock value through the lawn mower accident.[1] Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune exalted the hour as "jaw-dropping awesomeness" and expected Emmy wins for the writers and director, while praising both Christina Hendricks and Jon Hamm's performances. She directed special praise for Lesli Linka Glatter, saying that "the way she staged the 'fete' at SC, the injury of Guy, and especially that scene in Kinsey's office was just right. The lawnmower was threaded through the episode perfectly, and once we saw it emerge at the party, we thought typical SC party high jinks were, er, afoot. But suddenly, there's that arc of blood and that spatter across several partygoers. It was truly one of Mad Men's Most. Shocking. Moments."[2]

Time Magazine writer James Poniewozik said the episode was a "sufficiently stunningly bloody episode to make up for several episodes of smoke exhalations and brooding looks." Poniewozik, however, criticized the "dropped-like-a-brick mention of Vietnam in the office conversation. It’s plausible that people were starting to talk about Vietnam in 1963, but there are better ways than by kicking off a dialogue, 'My dad keeps talking about Vietnam'."[3] Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle wasn't sure if it was a "pivotal episode of Mad Men", but that "if this episode isn’t bound to be a classic, who cares – Mad Men certainly is."[4]


On its original American broadcast on September 20, 2009, on AMC, the episode was viewed by 1.57 million people.[5]


At the 62nd Directors Guild of America Awards, episode director Lesli Linka Glatter won the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Drama Series.[6] The episode was also nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award for Television: Episodic Drama at the 62nd Writers Guild of America Awards.[7]

For the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards, the episode received two nominations – Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (Robin Veith and Matthew Weiner) and Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (Lesli Linka Glatter).[8]


  1. Sepinwall, Alan (September 20, 2009). "Mad Men, "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency": a review of episode six". The Star Ledger. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  2. Ryan, Maureen (September 20, 2009). "Mad love: Emmy winner 'Mad Men' unleashes 'Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  3. Poniewozik, James (September 21, 2009). "Review of Mad Men, "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency"". Time Magazine. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  4. Goodman, Tim (September 21, 2009). ""Mad Men" Spoiled Bastard, Ep. 6 "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency"". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  5. Seidman, Robert (September 22, 2009). "Cable ratings: Monday Night Football, WWE RAW, Hannah Montana and Monk...". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  6. "Bigelow Wins DGA Award for "Hurt Locker"". CBS News. February 23, 2010. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  7. Mitchell, Gregg; Goldman, Sherry (December 14, 2009). "2010 Writers Guild Awards Television, Radio, News, Promotional Writing, and Graphic Animation Nominees Announced". Writers Guild of America. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  8. VanDerWerff, Todd (July 8, 2010). "Emmy Awards nominations announced; TV Academy asks, "Heard about this Glee thing?"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
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