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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Viagra and Mad Men: A Match Made in Heaven...

Forget "wild man." Viagra may have found the perfect marketing tie-in, at least on our local cable provider in DC: as the sponsor of "On Demand" replays of AMC's Mad Men.

If you are not a fan, Mad Men is a show about an advertising firm circa 1960 (Ad men+ Madison Avenue=Mad Men). It revels in depicting the corporate culture of that era: three-martini lunches, chain smoking executives, and sexual harassment as office sport.

What better vehicle to promote the quintessential product of the direct-to-consumer advertising era than a program about the invention of Madison Avenue itself?

The placement of Viagra on the season two premier was even more perfect. The episode in question, entitled "For Those Who Think Young," is set on Valentine's Day. And the ad break came after a pivotal scene. Here is how the episode summary describes the action:

Upstairs in their hotel room, Betty emerges from the bathroom, in heels, stockings, and a bustier. "Wow," says Don (pictured above), although later he can't pull the trigger in the midst of lovemaking. "I wish you'd just tell me what to do," Betty says afterwards. They order room service and watch Jackie Kennedy’s televised White House tour.

Cue "Viva Viagra."

There is one other reason why this sponsorship may be perfect. Mad Men's entertainment relies on the almost over-the-top behavior of its ad men--but it also makes unflinchingly clear that the world was most definitely not a better place in those "good old days."

We can't help but think that one day industry may look back on broadcast TV ads in the same light. It seemed fun at the time, but was it really the right way to do things?

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