MADMEN GONE MAD



For the last month or so I’ve been watching the TV series MadMen, both because I was told to do so and also because it is a really good series. I’ve also been reading a lot about advertising nowadays and suddenly the two things merged in one single thought: Have we, the MadMen of our times gone really mad now?

When you watch MadMen, just by the third season you understand the market changes they are living, the TV is the newest and most important media and the characters insist on repeating to clients that the important thing for a brand to do is to buy media. I feel that was true for a long time and some of us still believe that time in media, whatever media it is, should solve the problem for a great campaign. But time has changed and with the internet we’re working in world full of information where the boring part of it does not survive. As uncle Ben said to Peter Parker “Great powers come with great responsibilities” but more than that they come with great challenges, after all it is not storytelling if the hero is not transformed by the end of it.

One of the first concepts of storytelling you learn is “plot” which is, superficially speaking, an idea that evolves every beat and every scene of a story to make it become more real and interesting. Why not do the same with a brand?

The plot of a company or brand should be able to make people relate to it, feel something about it and eventually, if that’s you purpose, buy it. It is not a lie when marketers say that TV commercials are going down the road to inexistence. I, for instance, when getting into a supermarket want my refrigerator to look like Steve Jobs’ even if I haven’t ever seen his refrigerator. It is natural to want to be part of something we like and to belong to the group of people we admire. The best way to make us feel that is to tell a good story about the day Steve Jobs drank a can of Pepsi to freshen up. Product Placement has evolved to Story Placement and all of it in a plot.

Maybe it is time for us to understand that the challenge in advertising now is the same as it is in storytelling: to find the human truth in our brands which should be shared with everyone and let our hero/brand grow on people’s heart and not just on their minds. Have the media supported strategy of the Madison Avenue in the 60’s became so crazy it sounds mad? Or it is just me being mad now?   

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