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What would the 60’s “Mad Men” think of today’s media?

In ad campaigns, blogs, Uncategorized on September 11, 2009 by gingercatmom

When new media meant TV--Mad Mens Sterling Cooper Agency was ready to make the leap.

When new media meant TV--Mad Men's Sterling Cooper Agency was ready to make the leap.

“Mad Men” is the hit AMC series that chronicles the work, the drama and culture of the early 1960’s fictional ad agency Sterling Cooper. Season 3 kicked off in August and for those of us who work in marketing today, Mad Men gives us much to consider.

Last season, the creative and sales staff at Sterling Cooper was adjusting to their client’s demands for TV advertising –in fact they were just launching a TV division within their firm. The classic 30 second TV spot truly was new media back then. However, I was struck with the TV commercials that viewers see as the show airs in 2009. Every spot is integrated into the show itself, with the Mad Men graphics introducing the advertisers with a fact or trivia question related to the advertiser–typically companies such as BMW, Heineken, Clorox, Eight o Clock Coffee, etc. AMC calls this “Mad-vertising”. Viewers are left wondering…is this part of the show or part of the commercial?

The line between entertainment, information and advertising is more blurry than ever before–or is it? The classic TV or radio “soap opera” was named for the soap companies that sponsored the programs. Today we read a blog about new cars–and later find out that the author is paid by a car manufacturer. A “mom” blogs about money saving deals at retailers…and we learn that she’s on Target’s payroll. That video clip on You Tube that shows us how to use the newest hand-held device to manage our exercise program begins to look more and more like a Nike commercial. The blending of sponsor and program, advertising and true news has always been there–it’s just the media that has changed.

It is a brave new world for the Don Draper and his colleagues at Sterling Cooper as they dive into the new media of their day. New opportunities to create, new opportunities to sell and new opportunities to communicate. An it’s an exciting new media world for us too.

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4 Responses to “What would the 60’s “Mad Men” think of today’s media?”

  1. Thank you for highlighting the show “Mad Men.” I was totally unaware of this series until your blog posting, I will have to get caught up and watch AMC on Sunday nights.

    Your post is very insightful around the blurred lines of brand advertising and communication. I agree that media has transformed into a beast that keeps getting bigger, and so much smarter.

    – Corrine Steller

    • Let me know what you think of the show! Even if you have missed the first two seasons, I think that as a marketer you’ll appreciate Mad Men–and I have a feeling I’ll be blogging about it again one of these days.

  2. I have never seen Mad Men, and didn’t really know what it was about, but you have now enticed me to try to catch a few episodes! Having worked in an advertising agency for a year and a half, I would love to see the “original” side of advertising! I love all of your mentions concerning “moms” on blogs and YouTube how-to’s that look like commercials (because they most likely are). Working in advertising, that was always the main goal–make it appear seamless. Was that an ad or part of the show? Is this a commercial for a company or something that someone sitting at home innocently put on the Internet? It is a fine line, and one that definitely continues to blur everyday.

  3. I have never heard of this show until I read this post. I’m going to try and catch an episode. I think this show would be really interesting for those of us who work and went to school for marketing/advertising.

    I think it’s funny but true how people use the internet for business use more and more these days. Companies blogging about what they have to offer. They even go on comment sites and sort of solicit their products. That’s what makes the Internet such a great medium but also a little scary as well – you never truly know who you’re talking to!

    Once I catch an episode I’ll blog back with what I think about it!

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