Remember the days of 'push marketing', when the Mad Men of Madison Avenue monopolized what messages were beamed out to the public. Feeding us manageable morsels of propaganda about the brands they represented, they controlled a lot of what we ate, drank, and yes... even what we thought. Ironic that to promote an award-winning TV show about this period of advertising history, that the promoters of Mad Men should select the new medium of social media to cast a wide net for increasing audience viewership.
With several Emmy's under its belt and wild acclaim from the critics, Mad Men on AMC has only been able to attract slightly less than 2 million viewers during its second season. So the impetus to embrace social media this season makes a lot of sense.
Prompted also by the success of a PR company's unauthorized campaign to tweet as real life characters from the show, several accounts were set up under the names of Don Draper, Peggy Olson and Pete Campbell.
Don Draper's Twitter account
Initially upset when AMC found out about this, they filed complaints with Twitter to have the accounts removed. Apparently the producers were still stuck in the litigious days of the 60s when everyone sued everyone. They finally came to their senses when they realized that social networks can create a viral buzz, and that the show could only benefit from the subsequent free advertising that resulted. A valuable lesson learned about the marked difference between the antiquated business model of old versus the new social media channel of distribution.
To celebrate the impending debut of Mad Men’s third season on AMC, the cable network has released a MadMenYourself microsite, which allows you to become one of the characters of the show. And then to take it one step further, the characterizations are perfectly formatted to become your Twitter avatar, iPhone background, or desktop image.
MadMen Yourself microsite
Coffee-maker Eight O'Clock is the primary sponsor of these social media campaigns. Celebrating its 150th year anniversary it was a perfect tie-in for a coffee brand that was a favorite in the 60s and is now seeing a reemergence of popularity in the 21st Century.
Linda Schupack, SVP of marketing for AMC, agreed that the partnership with the Eight O' Clock made sense from her company's vantage point as well.
- "Mad Men is a show that has an absolutely passionate fan base, it's a show that people really want to talk about," she said. "I think there's this community of people who want to share what they love. The great thing about social media is that it does in fact enable a deeper relationship with the show. We're really allowing people to enter into the world of the show, to play with the property in a way that we haven't done before."
However, it is odd that Eight 'O Clock did not negotiate for product placement to be part of the deal. As it stands, according to previous seasons, Martinson's was the coffee account that the fictional agency Sterling Cooper represented on the show. Since that brand has also been around since the late 1800's, you would have thought Eight O' Clock would have usurped its competitors' on-air placement advantage. But then again, perhaps that rivalry will become a plot line this season where Draper will replace Martinson with the new social media sponsor (similar to how he dropped Mohawk Airlines last season for American Airlines).
Additionally, beginning August 10 and running throughout November, AMC will also host a trivia quiz game, “Which MadMan Are You?” on its Web site, featuring Eight O'Clock Coffee's banner ads. At the same time, Mad Men e-cards will be hosted on Eight O'Clock.com, featuring Mad Men regulars and allowing fans to remind each other about upcoming episodes, plan get-togethers to watch the show, and share feedback.
Another promotional tie-in with the show sponsored by the Banana Republic offers the public an opportunity for a walk-on cameo role in one of this season's episodes. The catch is you have photograph yourself in appropriate Mad Men garb. You can register for your 'casting call' here! You can also vote for the best submission.
So "MadMan-yourself" this season and tune in for one of the finest dramas to grace the small screen. It might portray a time period you didn't personally experience, but if you are a fan of old and new media, I am sure you will find a lot of insight as to how advertising has evolved over the last four decades. Get social and party with the Mad Men of Madison Avenue this season! And tell your friends that Don Draper sent you an e-card on the Internet, all the way from the 1960s!