Mad Men shill for Unilever

Unilever Launches ‘Mad Men’ Blitz
Says a spokesman” “Unilever created the vignettes to showcase its iconic brands and celebrate their heritage on a hit show that is culturally relevant to consumers today. Consumers are craving nostalgia. The featured brands are prominent today and were popular in the 1960s, when ‘Mad Men’ is set.” Interestingly, the first reactions from viewers and bloggers haven’t been positive, with complaints about how the ads too closely mimic the show. On the “Mad Men” Facebook page: “Who is Dove soap trying to fool with that fake Mad Men commercial!? That is how I felt, like Dove was trying to steal Mad Men’s thunder!’.

And there’s more: “Despite hating the weak, we-suckered-you-into-watching-our commercial, Dove did generate some talk about … Still, subconsciously, I’m sure next time I buy soap I will see the Dove brand and automatically think SCAM ARTISTS and buy Ivory instead.” A blogger griped, “I usually love Dove commercials but I found this one to be way off-target from their ‘women loving themselves’ branding.

    Dove ‘Mad Men’ Commercial Causes Controversy; Unilever Says It’s Witty Parody (
    Dove make ads just for Mad Men, women have the ideas, get no credit (
    More Fake ‘Mad Men’; More Real Ads (
    Advertising: Commercials in ‘Mad Men’ Style, Created for the Series (

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    A Peek at the Real-Life Ad Campaigns Depicted on ‘Mad Men’”
    With the new season of Mad Men here, Fast Company started reminiscing about the ad campaigns that Don Draper and his creatives worked on during the past two seasons. Sterling Cooper has devised ads and identities for such well-known brands as Kodak, Lucky Strike, and Playtex. The campaigns and pitch proposals vividly evoke the early 1960s and serve as key plot points. But what really happened to those brands and those campaigns back in the day? When did real life trump Mad Men? Read their article and find out.

    classic ads

    WebUrbanist also features a comprehensive collection of the product of the Golden Age of Advertising – beginning in the 50’s, a bit before the 60’s hey day that Mad Men takes place in – and highlights some of the key historical incidents that affected consumers’ psyche and attitudes towards brands and consumption of consumer goods during the time. A fascinating look at what captured Amercians’ hearts and minds back then – and a great contrast to the more sophisticated, two-way dialogue that brands need to have with more desensitized consumers now. Or would a return to some of these simpler, aspirational images and messages manage to inspire us and break through the clutter today?
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    JWT’s Mad Men

    I came across an article in AdWeek: “JWT this week said that it would run a brand spot on the upcoming release of the Mad Men DVD set, featuring creative that spells out the words “mad men” using letters and logos from the ad agency’s global client roster. The spot, which carries the tagline, “Making brands famous since 1864,” appears at the outset of the first disc in a four-disc set produced by Lionsgate.” You can see the ad here.


    JWT’s global CEO Bob Jeffrey gave a rather flabby explanation as to the rationale, objectives and success metrics surrounding this effort: “This is an opportunity for us to leverage our brand,” he said. “All I’m looking for is a nod of the head and recognition for what JWT is… The show has drawn audience of both consumers and industry people, giving JWT a platform that is hard to refuse”, he added.

    “Leverage our brand” … “nod of the head” … “consumers and industry people”. Well, I will forgive Bob for having been away from the sharp end of writing business presentations, but … really.

    Bob continues: “I always thought that the best way to build an agency is through the work it does for its clients, but this was a different kind of opportunity because of the nature and the content of the show.”

    “A different kind of opportunity”. OK.

    I guess I have two “issues” with this effort:

    1. Why would JWT – long thought of as a dinosaur (or pre-digital anachronism) and only recently reinventing itself as an Agency for the new era (Digitivity Deep Dive Days and all) – want to associate itself with the “good old days of” the 1960s? It seems that, rather than embracing the new landscape, JWT rejects 2008 as dystopic, and would like instead to travel back in time to the old utopia of the 1960s. I might give them a pass on this as wanting to celebrate their heritage, but still think that attaching themselves to that specific era is an odd move.

    2. Maybe I am being a tedious comms planner here, but isn’t using mass-market DVDs to reach the marketing community a teensy bit wasteful? As Booz Allen’s Chris Vollmer says: “It suggests that some of the people watching these DVDs must be important influencers somewhere” He also notes “It’s an industry play rather than a consumer play, because I can’t see how it would make sense to a consumer.”

    “Some” of the people who will watch are “Influencers”. Hmm. So, assuming JWT paid market rate for this, whichever bright spark at JWT that came up with this idea had to present the budget for approval, look his superior unblinkingly in the eye and say “Probably less that 1% of those who see this will be our target audience”. So: take whatever JWT paid for this, multiply it by .99 and that is how much money they wasted.

    And DVDs? Who buys them any more? I thought we all downloaded these days?

    I am not the only one who is perplexed. Says Simon Sinek, CEO of SinekPartners: “It sounds like someone reacting to an opportunity to me, and in doing so, JWT is acting like one of their own worst clients”. Steve Hall at AdRants, whose headlines I always enjoy, wrote the immortal line “JWT Uses ‘Mad Men’ DVD Set to Wank Off”. No comment!

    If there was a cleverly thought out play to “insert JWT in the national dialogue” (or similar) surrounding this effort, then I can see a glimmer of hope. And if I have missed anything any key points here, in the unlikely event anyone at JWT reads this and would care to enlighten me, please don’t hesitate!