With news that Mad Men, one of the few dramas I actually tune in for, is going to be on hiatus until 2012, I am resorting to desperate measures. I think I’m going to have to take solace in watching the following commercials over and over again, until I feel right:
I watched this TED talk (below), an archived talk from marketing guru Seth Godin. The main message of this one was advertising and marketing is no longer about the in-your-face stuff. It’s about being remarkable to the early adapters — the people who are actually seeking something to care about. The obsessed. The fanatics. The nerds.
Because eventually, those people will tell their friends and family about this really awesome pair of sneakers they came upon, and then those people will at least check them out and consider them, if not buy them.
Basically, I see the same ideas really working in television and films. Just as I wrote about earlier, marketers and programmers can’t expect everything to be universally appealing to everyone. Why do some networks go after the big ratings numbers as opposed to going after key fans who are incredibly engaged to the programming? I am completely aware of how advertising works, but doesn’t broad programming turn away people who would be true fans of a show if it skewered its humor or its action in a way to capture a truly captive audience? I understand that more eyes = more $$$, but when you have a truly engaged, albeit smaller, audience, aren’t they more receptive to the advertising and brand messaging crafted around it?
I am a true, true fan of the show Mad Men, and I don’t see them caving in to the pressures of its fans or of advertisers to be a certain way. Is there integrated advertising on that show? You bet. It’s a show about advertising. How could they not have integrated advertising. But I’m much more engaged watching that than, say, an episode of Two and a Half Men playing in the background of my living room while I tidy up around the house or clear out my inbox…
So basically, we’re talking about two of the most successful shows in the country, but their success is measured in two different ways: Two and a Half Men, while it has won an Emmy here and there, is basically your standard mass-appeal show of obvious jokes and sitcommy situations. But still, it beat all of the other shows in the ratings last night with a rerun! Mad Men is a show for true fans; no, they’re not slaughtering the ratings, but it garners high-end advertisers, awards, acclaim, and engaged fans who go out and buy merchandise like DVD box sets. No one goes to work pining to talk with their coworkers about last night’s episode where Charlie did _______. Personally, I don’t want to go to work on Monday if I haven’t caught up on Mad Men, because I know someone will spoil what happened to Joan.
I think I know which camp I want to be in when the time comes…