On Sunday, Mad Men returns for its final lap around the boardroom table, with just seven episodes to go before Don, Peggy and the Sterling Cooper family ascend to TV heaven. (And just before the sideburns get out of control, too.) Though the show is about advertising, it is, of course, about more. It’s about reckoning with one’s true identity, the fallout from suppressing inner demons, fumbling through parenthood and any number of other themes which have been, and will continue to be, thoroughly hashed out in the Mad Men Think PieceTM.
But the taglines and campaigns developed over tumblers of brown liquor have made for some of the show’s most memorable moments. They’ve cleverly played off real ad campaigns from the 1960s and tapped into the ethos of an era. How, though, do these fictional campaigns compare to the real thing? There’s no better way to answer that question than to hold them up against their real-life counterparts. Here, a collection of real ads that appeared in LIFE Magazine during the 1960s, for the same clients served by Sterling, Cooper, Draper and Pryce — and a few more for good measure.