Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

Posts Tagged ‘Mad Men’

The Lesson? It’s Obvious.

In Ideas on February 19, 2009 at 11:24 am

Last week a friend of mine, Matt McQueen from Omnigage (they do experiential marketing, check ’em out), sent me an email about something called Obvious Adams. To be honest, I had know idea what he was talking about. Turns out Obvious Adams is a book, written in 1916, by Robert R. Updegraff.  It’s the story of an advertising man with an uncanny knack of seeing the… obvious. The book, which you could read over a long lunch, isn’t particularly remarkable.

What I did find interesting was that it was written almost 100 years ago and that despite being about a subject I care about and am familiar with, I had never heard of it, or its author. I was also intrigued by the way I received book. Not a hard copy, or even a link to a slick website. Matt send me a pdf attachment. Here it is.

I think this has a chance to spread, and I think the timing is right for it to do so. The premise – keep things simple – seems right for 2009.  Let’s see if this becomes an ideavirus.


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.

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.

Best Practices in Social Media

In DINU, Ideas on September 9, 2008 at 9:54 am

DJ Francis over at the OnlineMarketerBlog recently picked up the gauntlet thown down by Mitch Joel of Six Pixels of Separation to identify the Best Practices in Social Media. It’s a great idea as the medium is still so new, many people, and brands, are still trying to figure things out.  I’m going to give you my take, though I’m not sure this is exactly what Mitch is looking for:

Use Social Media to build a Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe (DINU).

Social media provides unique opportunities for brands. The one we hear about most often is that it allows a dialogue or two-way communication between brands and consumers. This is absolutely correct but I think an equally powerful concept is that social media allows brands and consumers to collaborate to develop the brand into something strong and more meaningful. I’ve written about this at length on this blog, including here and here. For more on this general concept, I suggest reading Henry Jenkins and Jason Mittell who are also proponents of Transmedia Storytelling, a very similar concept.

A recent great example of this has been the Mad Men on Twitter experience. Fans have added to the show by creating something compelling, original and of high quality. By doing so they have enriched the experience for all. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other channels all provide opportunities to allow you to build, or faciliate the building of your brand’s DINU.

Mad Men: DINU via Social Media

In Ideas, Innovation on August 28, 2008 at 4:29 pm

The saga of Mad Men and Twitter continues to grow. Check out this site: We Are Sterling Cooper, which is chronicling the story as it happens. Here’s their manifesto:

Fan fiction. Brand hijacking. Copyright misuse. Sheer devotion. Call it what you will, but we call it the blurred line between content creators and content consumers, and it’s not going away. We’re your biggest fans, your die-hard proponents, and when your show gets cancelled we’ll be among the first to pass around the petition. Talk to us. Befriend us. Engage us. But please, don’t treat us like criminals.

This site exists to catalogue the conversation around AMC’s Mad Men and its fanbase across the social web. But it’s just the beginning. ‘We are Sterling Cooper’ is a rallying cry to brands and fans alike to come together and create together.

This is a casestudy in Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe (DINU) behaviour. I’m sure Henry Jenkins, Grant McCracken and others are seeing this and nodding their heads.

Mad Men – Twitter Hijinks

In Innovation on August 28, 2008 at 11:53 am
Don and Betty Are Watching You

Don and Betty Are Watching You

By now, you’ve probably seen the various posts about the Mad Men-Twitter hooha. You’ve even seen the posts suggesting you’ve probably already seen the various posts about the Mad Men – Twitter hooha.

Now I can add my only little piece to this marketing meme. After replying to DJ Francis’ post on the subjet, I now am being followed on Twitter by one of the Mad Men characters. DJ then had one too.  Somebody out there is monitoring the online conversations pretty closely and hustling.