There were undoubtedly quite a few advertising and marcomms eyeballs focused on Prime TV last night as series three of Mad Men kicked off.
And while all the regular characters were present and correct, some observant viewers may have noticed a new addition to the line-up: DraftFCB, who has taken the unusual step – for an advertising agency, at least – of sponsoring the show.
Justin Mowday, general manager of DraftFCB, says it's a fairly unique arrangement and doesn't know of any other ad agency to have taken this approach.
He says Mad Men is a fantastic show that's relevant to the industry, so it makes sense to get his agency's name in front of existing clients, potential clients, staff, competitors and anyone else who happens to be watching.
In fact, he says they're basically laughing in the face of the maxim that 'advertising agencies never advertise', which, in his opinion, is slightly hypocritical.
"It's advertising. If you truly believe in it, put your money where your mouth is," he says. "We did."
He says the agency has been "prepared to lead from the front in the heart of the recession" over the last six to eight months with direct marketing and TV campaigns. And the sponsorship of the show is just an extension of that confident approach.
And if you believe the Harvard Business School, which says marketing aggressively in a recession gains brands market share, he says it makes good business sense.
Mowday says there is something of a "blurred line" with this arrangement, however: Prime TV are one of DraftFCB's best clients and have promoted the last two seasons of Mad Men on their behalf (most notably with a fairly controversial wind-up that involved two of its staff setting up a racist, sexist, homophobic smoke and booze-friendly agency that turned out to be fictional) and it has now paid Prime to sponsor the show.
He wouldn't comment on how much the agency paid for sponsorship rights but he says it gets no special treatment when it comes to advertising other accounts. Anyone can buy ad space during the show — even other ad agencies, he says with a little twinkle in his eye.
Here are some of the DraftFCB TVCs that featured during Mad Men.
And their fairly tongue in cheek indents.
- Separate to the sponsorship of the show, DraftFCB has created a micro-site for the show so viewers can see how they stack up against Mad Men's suave protagonist, Don Draper.
- And for some light, slightly awkward relief, check out this rather entertaining interview with John Hamm, the All-American dreamboat who plays Don Draper.