By Michael O'Connell Posted August 19, 2009, 1:08 PM EDT
Sunday's third season premiere of Mad Men brought AMC record ratings, and though the show's status as current critical darling had to help, nearly a month of experiential promotions nationally and in New York couldn't have hurt either. Culminating in a public screening in Times Square Sunday night, AMC partnered with brands such as Banana Republic, Delta Airlines, and Hilton Hotels to pitch the niche show to the general public.
“It was really an effort to elevate the brand of Mad Men and AMC together,“ said AMC vice president of activation and promotion Theresa Beyer. “Beyond the smaller group of people, we wanted to break out and go beyond the Mad Men fanbase. It was big and bold for us. Between the activation with Banana Republic and the public efforts in New York, we really felt like we achieved a tsunami of promotions.”
The current season of Mad Men marks something of a critical mass for the network. Since rebranding from a classic-movie channel earlier in the decade, it's finally developed an enviable roster of original programming, content that has allowed it to be more adventurous in its marketing. “Experiential marketing does bring all of these brands to life,” Beyer says, “and, quite frankly, we haven't really tapped into that before.”
She was able to tap into it for Mad Men. In addition to Sunday's public screening in Times Square, which included costumed fans, free popcorn, trivia, and an appearance by cast member Bryan Batt, AMC promoted the series in the city with an outdoor 1960s advertising exhibition at the Museum of Art & Design and a Mad Men night at Citi Field. Nationally, the network had promotional content on Delta Airlines and Mad Men-inspired cocktails at Hilton hotels.
Possibly the biggest effort, however, involved the network taking over store windows in every Banana Republic in the United States and Canada. A cold call to the retailer turned into a three-week promotion that showcased 1960s-era clothing and offered fans willing to photograph themselves in the duds a chance to win a walk-on role in the series.
Beyer thinks the Banana Republic tie-in worked well, and got all the proof she needed during the public screening. “We had so many people show up on Sunday looking fantastic,” she said, “and I told them, 'What a great 60s outfit,' and they'd reply 'oh, I got it at Banana.”