If you haven’t been watching this season of Mad Men, then you are missing perhaps, the greatest season yet of this critically-acclaimed show. A show that revolves around the characters at an advertising agency in the 1960’s, you would expect to see creative ads from that contemptuous period. However, some of the most innovative advertisements from each episode this season, are the actual commercial breaks.
Television commercials have gone through a transition in the past 10 years as technology like DVR’s, TIVO, and the Internet have not only affected how we watch shows, but also have affected our attention spans. Only on Super Bowl Sunday are commercials rarely fast forwarded. It takes more than creativity now to break through this clutter. Two such mold-breakers have emerged during episodes of this Mad Men season.
With a Mad Men style backdrop and Font style, one method that has been used this season is to show a little factoid before a commercial. A 5-10 second fact showing “BMW was founded in 1913 as an airplane manufacturer,” which then leads into a commercial about BMW. This factoid lends relevancy to the commercial by connecting the product to Americana, and connecting the audience to the persuasion of nostalgia.
The Unilever brand has taken it a step further by creating six commercials for six of their products that have been around since the 60’s. They have created these commercials to mirror the scenes and dialogue that take place in the Mad Men show. Each commercial takes place in a fabricated advertising agency and involves art directors and copy writers discussing each product, displaying the product even with the packaging from that era. The products for the spots are Dove, Breyers, Vaseline, Hellman’s, Klondike, and Suave. You can watch all six of these unique ads on their YouTube channel.
The goal was to “celebrate their heritage,” said Kathy O’Brien, vice president for marketing for Unilever’s personal care products, in a way that is “culturally and contextually relevant.”
Trying to disguise the commercial as the actual show, is a trend that is occurring more frequently. During MTV’s Real World are anti-smoking ads called Zombieville. Last year, before and during episodes of Chuck, Honda made commercials using characters from the show. NBC has also tried this during episodes of Community for Turbo Tax software.
With attention spans short and the DVR remote fast, advertisers have to work even more creatively. It is appropriate that AMC and its multi-emmy winning show about advertising, is leading this charge.