Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mad Men Ad Campaigns & the Real Ones

FastCompany has compiled a slideshow on the ad campaigns in AMC's Mad Men and their referents. It reminds me of when I taught the first half of an ad campaigns class where I had students examine ads in terms of visual rhetoric culturally contextualized. One of the texts was 20 Ads that Shook the World. Now, I feel that with new media and integrated market communications {IMC}, I'd get my students to think in terms of systems, meanings, and media, sooner rather than later.

At any rate, from a historical perspective, I find looking at advertising to be useful. Here's AdAge's compilation of top 100 ad campaigns. One of my favourite ad campaigns {not on the list} dates back to the mid-1960s for a pretty much defunct brand, Polaroid::

The Swinger was Polaroid's foray into the mass market, tapping into youth culture {a theme in Mad Men, by the way}. The whole concept is surprising, as Polaroid was a fairly conservative company in Cambridge, MA. A friend once told me that MIT students in the late 1970s would go to a Polaroid "tech bin" that would contain free discards. The cost of the Swinger was $19.95 US in 1965, which wasn't chump change in 2009 dollars:: $135.03. The ad does a great job of pitching an innovation, instant photography. It features price, has an attractive cast {Ali McGraw is in the commercial}, and demonstrates how the product is used, all set to a catchy jingle. My second favourite Polaroid ad is "Architect" from 1997, done by Goodby-Silverstein and based on qualitative research they conducted where they gave people cameras and had them take and turn in the photos they created. The ad is online but behind a paywall, but I'll blog about it another time.

On the subject of Polaroid commercials, House fans might find this UK Polaroid ad amusing, featuring Hugh Laurie. Laurie was a comedic actor during this time.


Twitterversion:: #Mad Men ad campaigns & their referents from, my fave #Polaroid ad from 1965:: The Swinger! @Prof_K

Song One:: This One's Gonna Bruise - Beth Orton "...little Polaroids in a cardboard box."

Song Two:: so long, astoria - The Ataris "Polaroids of classrooms unattended/these relics of remembrance are just like shipwrecks..."

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