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Updating Mad Men: Taking a Fresh Look at Old Campaigns

Starting today I'd like to try a new regular feature here on Fresh Ground: updating Mad Men campaigns for the social media age. A lot has been made about the fact that the period drama is so fun to look at because its advertising methods are so quaint. In 1964 TV was a relatively new thing for reaching mass audiences, print ads ruled the roost and sarcasm had just started to take hold in the ad world (many point to the "Lemon" campaign for the Volkswagen Beetle).

So what would a campaign look like today? Let's look at the Sugarberry Ham campaign. In the episode, Sugarberry is a ham company that is testing its canned hams in a few supermarkets around New York. Unfortunately one is in a Jewish neighborhood. So the company obviously doesn't have a great grasp of its market.

Let me set a few ground rules here:

  1. We are going to work within the world of Mad Men, that is, we'll deal with the facts they give;
  2. We're not going to run out and do a bunch of market research;
  3. Much of this will be brainstorming, as we have no idea as to their budget; and
  4. We'll fill in details as we need them.

Peggy Olsen, the Hero of Ham

Ok, so characters Peggy and Peter, faced with the possibility of losing the account come up with a publicity stunt involving 2 women being paid to fight over a store's last ham. Long story short, it doesn't go according to plan, still they get a few news stories, sell a bunch of hams, Peggy gets a new slogan "Our Hams are Worth Fighting For," and the client buys more media.

So, what would we at Fresh Ground do to help the story today?

First, we'd make sure that the corporate website had way to create and submit content. Specifically content regarding ham recipes. Being someone who lives in a Kosher house, I'll defer to people with more experience cooking canned hams, but I have to assume that people have plenty of recipes.

I actually have a personal connection to DAK Hams, though have never eaten one. Ask me why another time.

Then, we'd help them create a Facebook page that features a Recipe of the Week. We'd make sure that the weekly recipe went live on the site and feed directly through to the Facebook page, thereby showing up in the newsfeed of people who "liked" the Sugarberry Ham page. Also, we'd look at purchasing geo-targeted ads so the people living in the desired areas see the Sugarberry name. Ideally we'd coordinate this with in-store promotions.

Taking it all one step further, we'd love to know the demographic makeup of the targeted stores as well as shopping patterns. That would better enable us to put out the appropriate recipes and release them on days in which people are more likely to be shopping.

Of course, we'd want to hit the coupon world but I think we'd like to try something new. Maybe work with the store and with FourSquare to offer a coupon to anyone who checks in during specific weeks. The Mad Men episode takes place during Thanksgiving, so we'd want to drive traffic both during Thanksgiving week and the weeks leading up to Christmas.

On the media relations side it would be interesting to talk with food reporters about alternatives to the traditional Thanksgiving Turkey. In today's world ham may be seen as a bit passe, but I'm sure we could work with a local chef to get some updated recipes that start with a canned ham. That may even lead to a YouTube campaign in which we ask a series of chefs to show us what they can do with a canned ham, besides make it a paperweight. We'd ask the question "can you turn a canned ham into a Top Chef-worthy meal?"

Of course, these are just some of our thoughts. What would you do?

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