Luke Dringoli
Luke Dringoli
Editor, Social Networks

Mad Men Advertises About Advertisers Advertising Before Their Advertisements

Let’s start this week off right with a look back at yesterday’s episode of Mad Men. As usual, we’ve been keeping a close watch on the show and its sponsors. While most of the folks at Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce were on a little New Year’s holiday (for our dear protagonist, this mostly meant booze and hookers), the real ads supporting the show were working double time, hoping to ensnare the folks with advertising already on the brain through what appeared to be a more deeply integrated partnership with the program. Winners and losers after the jump.

In previous weeks, we’ve called attention to the tendency of some brands advertising during Mad Men to focus on their own marketing efforts within their spots (I know, our minds: BLOWN). As the commercials return to their normal glossiness, Mad Men and AMC are also using ad-related factoids to lend authenticity and legitimacy to advertisers by bringing them under the penumbra of the period drama. These factoids position brands as relevant extensions of the show’s content, making them more than just generic sponsors.

For example: “BMW was founded in 1913 as an airplane manufacturer” appears across a Mad Men-styled facade before launching into a feel-good spot for the automaker. We counted a total of six of these, five of them branded plugs: for Breyers (more to come on this one), Bridgestone, BMW, Chase, and Call it a quick way to integrate and inter-weave the supporting advertising into the show itself, making the whole experience a little less jarring and painful for the viewer.

Also, the series of Mad Men rip-offs, which began with last week’s Dove spot, continued on with another legacy brand, Breyers ice cream. It still feels more like a bad Mad TV sketch than an homage to the show, though. While the episodes may trick some DVR watchers (as noted last week), it won’t gain the brand any new admirers (or style points, for that matter).

But if we were to give out awards for regular ol’ ads here, the best of the night would go to Apple. Short, simple and sweet, two spots for their iPhone 4 device tug on heartstrings hard enough to make even Mr. Draper proud. They effortlessly illustrate the phone’s “FaceTime” video-conferencing feature by sharing special moments from two happy couples. One, the news of a pregnancy (only way it could’ve been better is if she’d held up the pregnancy test), the other, just a couple being really darn cute. They trigger an emotional response in all but the coldest of souls, while establishing a clear value in having the feature — and therefore, the phone. As far as the traditional interrupt-and-repeat goes, it’s about as good as it gets.

What’s your reaction to this latest chapter in the Mad Men saga? Disagree with our assessment of the ads? Sound off below!


  • Matt K

    Totally agree that the Dove spot (and the Breyers) were very weak, but Apple as the winner? the version with the new father showing his new-born to his dad feels so cool and emotionally contained as to be completely contrived.

    Also, the BMW retro ads have been great IMHO.

  • Ecks

    I’m still waiting for the Mad Men BMW spot that opens with the factoid, “BMW manufactured airplane engines for the Nazi war effort and was prohibited from conducting business between 1945 and 1948 due to war crimes.”

  • Mc

    The Ultimate Killing Machine

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