Mad Men is set in the 1960s, initially at the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on Madison Avenue in New York City, and later at the newly created firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, located nearby in the Time-Life Building, at 1271 Avenue of the Americas. According to the show's pilot, the phrase "mad men" was a slang term coined in the 1950s by advertisers working on Madison Avenue to refer to themselves. The focal point of the series is Don Draper, creative director at Sterling Cooper and a founding partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and the people in his life, both in and out of the office. The plot focuses on the business of the agencies as well as the personal lives of the characters, regularly depicting the changing moods and social mores of the United States in the 1960s.
Don makes a new friend. Joan meets a client for drinks. Peggy hears impressive new work. Roger has a puzzling phone call.
Peggy receives a bouquet of flowers at the office. Pete navigates the politics of new business. Joan is put in an impossibly awkward situation.
Don takes an impromptu trip. Betty has lunch with a friend. Harry lobbies for a cause. The partners consider a questionable asset.
Sterling Cooper & Partners prepares for a guest; Don contacts an old friend; Roger deals with problems at home; Peggy is underestimated.
Don has a visitor from his past. Stan embarrasses a superior. Peggy helps Ginsberg with a problem. Harry finds that he has a new ally at the agency.
Peggy determinedly collects research for a pitch. Pete is invited to join an exclusive club. Joan looks forward to spending time with her friend.
Don receives a troubling letter. A risky venture entails a new future for Peggy. Roger gets an unexpected phone call. Pete butts heads with Cutler.
Don attempts to track down a friend, Joan tries to solve a problem with an account and an unlikely person sets up Peggy.
Roger gives Don some unwanted advice. Peggy and Stan disagree over an account's personnel. Harry asks for Don's blessing.
Roger pawns off a project on Don, Joan goes on a business trip and Peggy and Pete cannot agree on how to deal with an account.
Don comes up with a big idea, Roger asks Joan to help him fix a clerical error and Peggy has difficulties casting for a commercial.
Don receives a reward for his work. Joan butts heads with her co-worker on an account. Faced with a big decision, Roger dodges.
Don has trouble sleeping. Pete is blindsided by a difficult friend. Facing a new challenge, Henry arranges a family reunion.
The stories of Don Draper, his family and his co-workers at Sterling Cooper & Partners conclude.