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Mad Men, Newsweek, retro ads and buzz creation

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TV shows and movies have focused on marketing & promotion for a while now. Every trick in the book is used to promote ‘titles’ like regular FMCG brands. While some go overboard in their promotional efforts, very few ideas stick in your head [as with FMCG brands].

Pundits have said that in today’s world, marketing is all about getting consumers to talk about your brand. And earned media plays a key role in that. When publications, TV shows, blogs and online news portals voluntarily talk about a brand’s advertising efforts in positive terms, you know you’ve got a success. It creates a surround effect far greater than any paid media campaign can. Mad Men’s 5th season premiere this Sunday on American TV has got the world media buzzing – thanks to a brilliant marketing idea from Newsweek. According to Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of Newsweek:

The idea arose from a conversation with the show’s creator, Matt Weiner, who remarked that the buzzing content of the 1960s Newsweek was frequently the subtext of his show. The office psychodramas in “Mad Men” ran parallel with a serial melodrama in the news that Newsweek covered with panache: civil rights, women’s lib, the Kennedy assassinations, Vietnam, man on the moon—even the dominance of that new tech phenomenon the Xerox machine.

We invited the Hill Holliday ad agency in Boston to collaborate on our cover shoot, and its creative director, Lance Jensen, had a brain wave: wouldn’t it be eye-catching for our pages to reflect not just the editorial look of the ’60s but also the advertising idiom of the time?

The concept is brilliant on its own. It was made even better since it got other brands & advertisers excited [hats off to Hill Holliday and its creative director too]. Brands which existed in the 1960s and those that didn’t, have made an effort to go ‘retro’ and create that ads that matched the Mad Men era. Here are a few images from the issue – including the Cover and a few print ads. I loved the British Airways, Dunkin Donuts Benetton ads. See all the ads here.

Call it Buzz Marketing, Movement Marketing or whatever, in today’s context this just what the doctor ordered for brands. What worked? [a] Idea rooted in the brand: Mad Men’s appeal beyond the advertising fraternity can perhaps be attributed to our yearning for days past. There’s a little bit in every one of us which loves going back to ‘those good old days’. The 50s, 60s & 70s saw a whole lot of ‘world-changing’ events, inventions that had a lasting impact and above all a powerful, appealing ‘visual imagery’ in our minds. The Newsweek idea to go retro and invite brands to create retro ads tapped into this mindset. [b] Universal appeal: the show maybe US-centric but the power of the idea was global. No wonder that the idea is being talked about beyond non-US markets. You liked? Do comment in.

 

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A marketing communications professional with a keen interest in all things advertising. I share creative ads and views on the ad industry here. Views are personal. See Disclaimer for more.

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