There are so many great things about Don Draper, but let's just choose one: his product pitches are so evocative. His vision and lyrical description imbues every product not only with a sense of luxury but a sense of necessity.
Like the Kodak pitch didn't you come away from that thinking, "I need this Kodak film carousel to display pictures of my pristine family or else I'm denying them my affection." All of the fictional (and sometimes real) products that made their way into Don's pitch room have been marketed as though they extensions of one's personality. Be it a can of shaving cream or a cup of coffee, each product says something about you that you want people to know.
Alison Hoffman, the marketing director, described a Web-site promotion that will allow users to create their own "Mad Men" avatars, choosing among different ties, pipes, crinolines, and pearls.
"We're still adding accessories," she said.
"We need more purses!" someone suggested.
Next, Theresa Beyer, the vice-president of activation (another thing that didn't exist in the sixties), outlined a tie-in with Banana Republic, including a contest for a walk-on role. "Banana Republic has really taken this promotion to the nth degree," she said. Then she announced an activation coup: the Mets had just agreed to designate a "Mad Men" seating section at one of their games.
"Get out of here!" Theano Apostolou, the head of publicity, said.
"The exciting thing is everyone in our section is going to have a fedora," Beyer went on. "Of course, the band around it will have to be Mets colors." The marketers cooed: happiness.
Unhappiness! Mets seats? Ugh! Are we also to expect another long caravan of subways shrink-wrapped in an eye-assaulting Sterling Cooper theme? It's embarrassing to step into a train car that's been hijacked by advertisers. Train passengers will keep their eyes on their shoes generally, unless they be thought of as saps. So how well will sitting in a cramped plastic chair with a giant Don Draper silhouette at the Mets game evoke the themes of necessity, luxury, or personality? You can't just slap a logo on something and call it a "branding exercise ."
Thankfully though, the ladies are onto something with the clothes and the avatars. Those are direct extensions of our personalities. Things we want but are convinced we need and Mad Men can give them to us. Indeed, if there's activity that takes more time than putting an outfit together it's the agonizing amount of time I spend looking for the right avatar. Recently, I settled for nice cropped picture of a fictional red head named Joan Holloway.