AMC Plays The Nostalgia Card

We might all thank (or blame) Soprano’s writer and executive producer, Matthew Weiner, for injecting some Hollywood-style glam into our industry’s sagging self-image. I mean just look what he did for New Jersey and gangsters.
His new series “Mad Men” will premiere on AMC in July. The show takes place in 1960 at Sterling Cooper, a fictional Madison Avenue ad agency.
Marc E. Babej and Tim Pollak, writing for Forbes say the show, “brings to life the advertising industry and milieu in its heyday: the execs, their assistants, the drinking and smoking, the unabashed political incorrectness.”

Speaking to the “evolution” of the ad business in the 47 years since 1960, Babej and Pollak say:

Then, advertising attracted the cream of the crop from the very best schools. As a career, advertising was prestigious, lucrative and offered more challenges than one could hope to find on the client side. It was also decidedly more fun. The mythologized three-martini lunch was fact, not fiction. Everyone flew first-class to the coast. Unlimited expense accounts were the rule.
Now, agencies have to scratch and claw for talent. The business has become a pressure cooker, with public company bosses watching every penny, and clients demanding more and more measurable results. Meanwhile, investment banks, hedge funds, consultants, technology firms and clients offer the best and brightest significantly better packages. Guess where most of today’s top grads want to work.

I have a feeling most of today’s ad peeps will have a hard time relating to the characters in “Mad Men.” But, in our longing for a rose-tinted yesteryear, we may all find ourselves glued to the screen come July.
[UPDATE] Stuart Elliott is reporting that Jack Daniel’s will sponsor “Mad Men” in an agreement that involves the product both on and off the show. In episodes of “Mad Men,” characters will drink Jack Daniel’s in various scenes or ask for the brand by name. Sets will be decorated with vintage bottles, decanters and ads. Jack Daniel’s will be featured in promotions on AMC asking viewers to watch the series as well as in brief vignettes to introduce commercials that the network is calling “Mad-vertising.” Off the show, Jack Daniel’s will be the sponsor of the “Mad Men” section of the AMC Web site and will be credited on posters, print ads and other materials intended to encourage viewers to tune in.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.