Have you noticed the retro commercials that have been airing during new episodes of Mad Men? In fitting with the 1960's era of the show, they take us back to how products were marketed years ago at an old fashioned ad agency. An indirect result of these ads is that they consistently trip me up while trying to fast forward through the commercials. Like many people, my television watching habits have completely changed since the advent of the DVR. I rarely watch anything 'live'? anymore (with the exception of sports) and I take full advantage of being able to complete an episode faster by skipping through the commercials. But these spots during Mad Men pose an interesting challenge because they look and feel just like the show itself. You stop fast forwarding because you think you're back to the show, until realizing moments later that you're actually watching a commercial. You got me. A tricky, but effective strategy that as a marketer left me wondering, is this the next evolution of product placement?
When TiVo first hit the market years ago, marketers feared that combining the ability to skip commercials with consumers' already shortened attention spans might result in the death of the traditional television spot. Years later, product placements are now so commonplace and expected that they've reached the point of annoyance. Consumers are starting to wonder, 'Does my favorite character really love Snapple, as the show creator intended? Or are character preferences now determined by whichever brands are paying to sponsor the show that year?'? As television producers get more protective over their show's integrity, advertisers may be left to come up with another solution for promoting their clients' brands.
If the Mad Men example proves successful, how soon before we see other commercials leveraging the look and feel of the shows that they advertise during?