Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

Mad Men – Consumer Participation Continues To Fill The Void

In DINU, Ideas on December 22, 2008 at 3:17 pm
All Your Don Draper Are Belong To Us

All Your Don Draper Are Belong To Us

By now you’ve read Bud Melman’s memo and seen the first two episodes of Digital Mad Men, the very clever appropriation by Allen Adamson of Landor. As we reach the end of the year, this whole thing really brings home some of the things I’ve focused on this year and some of the trends I think will really take prominence in 2009.

It all starts with great content. Mad Men is a terrific show, which was confirmed by its Emmy win this year. Strong content leads to what I call a Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe. Consumers loved the content so much they weren’t satisfied to simply watch, they wanted to participate. From that we got Mad Men on Twitter.

Here’s Allen on the subject:

Be it active or passive, voluntary consumer participation is a cool branding tool

Even the savviest marketer will tell you that you can’t deem a brand-building tactic cool unless a consumer deems it cool, no matter how great an arbiter of cool you think you are. In fact, the savviest marketers will tell you that the most successful brand-building tactics are, more often than not, the handiwork of consumers, given the control they’ve been ceded as a result of the digital evolution. They’ll also tell you that the best advocacy-generating cool is interactive, like the recent ad-hoc Twitter initiative for AMC’s Mad Men, where thousands upon thousands of devotees of the show set up accounts to follow the lives of the characters. This user-generated socialization of content has taken on a life of its own and AMC, while initially a bit nervous at its loss of control over how the characters “tweet” each other, has come to the conclusion that this voluntary consumer engagement adds an incredible meta-level of depth to the program and its inhabitants, not to mention gives the network PR that money just can’t buy.

Getting a consumer to deem a passive online experience cool enough to pass along is also a vote of confidence that money can’t buy. For example, my current YouTube spoof, Digital Mad Men,

If you can get an initiative to catch on with consumers, cool. Be it active or passive, voluntary consumer participation is a great brand-building tool. Getting consumers engaged, especially through social media, can help bring a brand to life and build a deeper relationship with its customers. uses the show as a point of reference, an entertainment vehicle, to illustrate how digital is changing the “tools and conversation” but not the office dynamics of agency life. It also points out that in order to get more than a few thousand eyeballs you need to have content that goes beyond the category of clever to industry insiders.

Here’s Episode Three of Allen’s Digital Mad Men series…

Joe Pulizzi of Junta42 is one of the foremost advocates of content marketing. He points out that even in these tough economic times, brands are still looking to spend in this area.

Now is not the time to be pulling back on marketing, it’s just time to think differently about how you create excitement about your brand. Creating dynamic content, telling compelling stories and producing branded media is a way to speak to consumers in a way that engages.

  1. Rick…well, brands are going to do one of two things. 1. Pull-back on all marketing, but invest in tried and true traditional methods or 2. Pull back their traditional marketing but invest a good portion of that into more “experimental” asset-building strategies like content marketing and social media.

    My bet is on #2.

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