Historically, AMC's "Mad Men" is the first TV show to win Emmys for "Best Drama" three years in a row. In a recent episode, the show's lead character Don Draper accepted a CLIO award for his agency's Glo-Coat TV commercial. However the fictional ad agency known as SmithWinterMitchell that parodies the fictional ad agency known as SterlingCooperDraperPryce doesn't appear to be getting the same type of accolades.
Clorox TV ad featured on "Mad Men"While there has been a number of commercials that have tailored commercials for the "Mad Men" series - Clorox the most notable - Unilever has pushed the creative envelope of actually developing story lines for six of their products as perceived through the eyes of "another" Mad Men team of ad execs.
The season-long sponsorship will present a series of 13 vignettes for the Unilever's iconic brands of Dove, Breyers, Hellmann's, Klondike, Suave and Vaseline and in addition to being featured during season four of the show - also have a dedicated YouTube channel called the SmithWinter's Channel- that features all the commercials.
The YouTube Channel description of the agency almost makes you think for a minute that this is a real agency. It talks about how SmithWinterMitchell is part of Madison Avenue's so-called 1960's "Creative Revolution" and has a driving ambition to expand "the creative and entertainment boundaries of advertising."
While Meyer appears to be the senior partner of the group, similar to Bertram Cooper in Don Draper's firm, copywriter Phil Smith and art director Tad Winter are the featured hot shot ad execs who are seen in each episode on a winning streak landing big brand accounts.
The commercials designed to combine the best of the old and new, celebrate the 46-year old Unilever products by showing they are as popular today as they were in the '60s. So like this Vaseline ad, the commercials uses witty historic parody and conclude each spot with the product's modern-day packaging.
In the Suave shampoo spot, Tad is described as looking a bit "salony" in taking his product research too seriously. To better understand his demographic, in this 1-minute episode, he gets his hair shampooed at a women's salon to better understand Suave's target market.
According to their Business Wire press release, Unilever's vice president of Personal Care says, "Unilever has a history of engaging consumers through innovative marketing campaigns, and our Mad Men sponsorship is no exception." The fact that all six Unilever products were around during the "Mad Men" era allows this alternate universe - of art-imitating-art-imitating-real-life - to take on a life of its own.
Similar to Saturday Night Live parodies, Unilever is using a similar format to engage the consumer through entertainment. This approach is a difficult one to master (as several skits of this type have even flopped on SNL) - but Unilever's ad agency get kudos for pulling them off with keen and insightful humor. And in so doing, I think they deserve their own CLIO. And short of that happening, perhaps YouTube Awards could expand their current seven categories to include one for "Best Mad Men Parody." Just a thought!