Why Don Draper Would Hate Mad Men's Social Media Tactics


Social media is a huge marketing tool. Its full power remains largely untapped, as marketers, ad agencies and PR firms feel out what works and what doesn't. Something that hasn't been figured out yet is the gaping chasm between a brand's voice and its social media voice. When a gap exists, it hurts the value of the brand. No two brands better illustrate the values of this lesson than The Most Interesting Man in the World and Mad Men

Let's start with The Most Interesting Man in the World. The Dos Equis spokesperson came onto the scene in 2006 and instantly made waves. Check out a compilation reel of his best commercials here: 

He's been enormously popular. Sales of Dos Equis have skyrocketed. He's sparked a huge internet meme based on his line, "I don't always drink beer. But when I do, I prefer Dos Equis." Just look at this:

And he doesn't tweet. At first glance, this seems like a huge missed opportunity for Dos Equis marketing. He'd have millions of followers. But the smart people at Heineken USA (which owns Dos Equis) don't see it that way. They recognize that the Most Interesting Man in the World does not spend time crafting witty tweets from his iPhone. He's out living in the world, and occasionally a camera catches some of his wisdom. Because of this conscious and conservative marketing, the Most Interesting Man in the World remains the cherished brand spokesperson he was seven years ago. How many other spokespeople can you think of that haven't burned out or become annoying over seven years? It's an impressive feat. 

Mad Men's social media strategy takes a powerful franchise and reduces it to the usual Facebook blah. What do I mean by "the usual Facebook blah"? I mean troll posts that explicitly ask people to share or like them. 

I mean cross-promotional posts for a company's other products (or shows) that take us out of the fictive world of the show. 

I mean gimmicks, contests, and giveaways. 

Don Draper would hate all of this. So would Peggy, and so would Roger. I think Pete might even hate it, and he has the tact of a cockroach. This stands in sharp contrast to the authoritative confidence of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. The only two gimmicks they ever did (two ladies fighting over the last Christmas Ham and Don's "Why I'm Quitting Tobacco" letter) were both creative and effective. Nobody knew the Ham bit was a gimmick, so no credibility was lost. And the Tobacco Letter was bold and tone-defining. When I see Facebook tactics like these, I'm immersed less and less in the 1960s world of SCDP and reminded more and more that this is a television show that a network is desperately trying to market. 

So why does this happen? One word is to blame: Data. The people who craft social media strategy look at Data to see if it's working. How many fans do we have? How many likes do our posts get? How many shares? Comments? And there is a nominal value in this. It can be used as an effective barometer. What it's being used as instead is a comfort blanket for marketing execs and PR firms that says, "Our Social Media Strategy Is Working." 

But Data doesn't measure eye rolls. It doesn't measure smiles. The majority of social media responses aren't captured in likes and shares. In fact, only 1% of major brand fans interact with their brands in a way Data can notice. Without getting too Occupy on you here, I'm speaking for the 99%. Those who see something and maybe like it, but don't 'like' it. Or hate it, but don't feel like commenting on a corporation's Facebook page. That's what Mad Men's marketing department isn't seeing: Tom Mandel's thousands of eye rolls. And ignoring those altogether is hurting them. Although, to be fair, I'll keep watching. I might just unlike the brand online. 

Social media departments are running amok with the brand voices they represent. Kudos to those who have the stones to operate without trolling for likes. And shame on those who are slaves to data. The next time you see a brand page asking you to LIKE this, practice civil disobedience and unlike.