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Good thing the sheer size of my cable package entitled me to a free upgrade for the super-capacity hard drive when I switched from truly horrendous Time Warner to seemingly better (but the jury’s still out) Verizon Fios.
This evening, I am recording no less than 11 shows – Jerseylicious (8-9pm, Style), The Amazing Race (8-9pm, CBS), The Good Wife (9-10pm, CBS), Celebrity Apprentice (9-11pm, NBC), GCB (10-11pm, ABC), Watch What Happens (11-11:30pm, Bravo), Mad Men (11pm-1am, AMC), Worst Cooks in America (12-1am, Food Network), Shameless (2-3am, Showtime West), House of Lies (3-3:30am, Showtime West), Californication (3:30-4am, Showtime West) – which amounts to nearly 12 hours of glorious television.
This is like a couch potato soufflé – one timeslot shift and the whole thing caves in.
Thankfully, cable re-airs the shit out their shows, or else this scheduling masterpiece would not be possible. You almost can’t imagine the same person could love both Jerseylicious and The Good Wife. But I do. And this is just my Sunday night lineup!
Honestly, though, I’m really only counting down to 1 show. Of course, I’m speaking of Mad Men.
It’s no secret I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the show, but it has been an excruciating 526 days since Mad Men season 4 ended (October 17, 2010, but who's counting?). At long last, Don Draper and the gang are back for more womanizing, boozing, and advertising.
Life at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is my favorite part of the show. I’m a sucker for a good ad. Even a bad one, on occasion. Since we last rode the elevator together, I’ve noticed a pattern in the suits from Madison Avenue: Truth in advertising. I can name 3 companies off the top of my head who have launched multi-million dollar national campaigns centered around telling the truth about their brand and their industry.
I’m officially calling it a trend.
I mean, if 2 is a coincidence, 3 has got to be a trend, right? Regardless, grab your secretary, pour yourself a Tom Collins, a Brandy Alexander, or an Old Fashioned (Don’s fave), and watch these spots:
Cardboard crust. Processed cheese. Flavorless sauce. Only enjoyable if you’re drunk. Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle faced these criticisms head-on, and set out to make a better pizza. Steering a 50-year-old company and its 9000+ franchisees in a different direction couldn’t have been an easy task. They looked at 10 crust types, 15 sauce recipes, and dozens of cheeses to reinvent the product. And they cooked up a better ordering process (it’s actually fun!). Then they spent millions on a brutally honest ad campaign, which publicized their formerly lousy pizza and offered money-back guarantees to anyone who didn’t taste the difference. And they posted new customer feedback on a 125-ft electronic billboard in Times Square. Oh no they didn't? Oh yes they did!
Blue liquid. White spandex pants. Twirling in slow motion. Riding horses on the beach. Feminine hygiene product ads made periods seem SUPER fun. Somehow, erectile disfunction commercials could show an old geezer in the bedroom, but these girls had to be ANYWHERE but in the bathroom. So Kimberly Clark took the tampon by the string with their 90 year-old Kotex brand and turned the spotlight on themselves. They used their own old commercial footage to illustrate how silly the industry had become about monthly goings on “down there.” They changed packaging from sterile white to chic black. And in the process, they showed young girls that the only embarrassing thing about this topic was its advertising. Still think periods are all kittens and cartwheels? Get real!
Artificially inflated prices. Confusing markdowns. Massive exclusions. Retail industry pricing strategies were the enemy here. JCPenney’s CEO Ron Johnson (formerly of Apple) decided to stop the madness. This company was spending over $1B a year in promoting their sales (almost 600 per year). They looked at what they were charging, and what customers most often paid after juggling discounts. Turns out, only 1 in 500 items sold for full price. So he re-priced everything. And then he did away with complex return policies. Did I mention he only joined the company in November? On February 1st, with a new logo (reminiscent of the American flag) and Ellen DeGeneres, the concept of “fair and square pricing” was introduced to this 110 year-old company. A breath of fresh air, indeed. Enough is enough!
These 3 brands existed in the Mad Men-era. And I’m guessing that’s also when the stereotypes they’re now fighting were invented. I'm sure they worked at the time. As Don Draper would say, “Trust me, I work in advertising.”
(As an aside, the current issue of Newsweek is a real treat -- right down to the ads)
Now, if you can stomach just one more teensy-weensy commercial before the show, I'll end with my most favorite ad airing right now. It looks at truth from a different angle. And truth be told, I don’t drink coffee, but I really would like 3 cups of Johan…
So, can there be truth in advertising? And what's YOUR favorite Mad Men moment? The womanizing, the boozing, or the advertising? Put your cocktail down and comment below!
tags: commercials, entertainment