Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

Mad Men on Twitter v. Digital Mad Men

In DINU on December 4, 2008 at 8:41 am

Earlier this year, a bunch of clever folks got together to do something pretty cool: They brought the Emmy Award-winning show Mad Men to life on Twitter. It was great entertainment and spoke to the larger issues of Brand Hijacking, what sort of real ownership a creator has over their creations, and how consumers can work together (or not) with the new tools of social media. One stand-out participant produced a terrific site that really speaks to what many of us were trying to do. On December 8 Bud Melman, the creator of that site will be releasing a look behind the scenes from his perspective on the Mad Men on Twitter experience. If you’d like to get a sneak peak, send him an email: bud.patrick.melman[at]

And now a moment of partial disclosure: I particpated in the Mad Men on Twitter experiment, portraying three different characters (two from the show and one from the era).

I’m biased of course, but I thought it was a fanstastic experiment, not because of my participation, but because of so many clever, smart, creative people in what amounted to a Twitter improv performance. Unfortunately I thought it never reached its full potential, but that’s just my opinion. I’m certainly glad I played my small part and happy to have made a new friend in the process.

Today I was directed to Digital Mad Men, the creation of Allen Adamson, the author of BrandSimple.

This is pretty clever stuff:

Episode 1

Episode 2

I’ll definitely look to see where he takes this, but ultimately it doesn’t have the same appeal.

While I think this is clever, I don’t think it works as well as Mad Men on Twitter and here’s why.  At its best Mad Men on Twitter was true to the spirit of the television show. The ‘actors’ all tried to stay in character and build upon what the show creators had made. It was a classic case on fans participating in and building upon a Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe (DINU). The thousands of Twitter followers were interested in having a deeper relationship with the characters from the show, whereas Allen is merely using the characters from the show (albeit cleverly) for his own purposes – which is fine, but different.

I’m really excited about social media and the new avenues it’s opening for creativity. I think Mad Men on Twitter proved that consumers can create something that the rest of the public finds compelling and worth supporting. There will always be a place, as there should, for appropriation but the building of a Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe has real potential for brands.

  1. Oh, gee, good thing I didn’t take you up on your offer to work at Ogilvy, eh?

    Nice work, sir.

  2. We created a social site for the twitter fan fic character portrayals. It has fan groups, character blogs and profiles. It’s an extension of the twitter profiles.

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