Blog Archives

The Emotional Attachment™ of ‘Breaking Bad’

AMC’s “Breaking Bad” finished its fifth season and its run on Sunday night by breaking all of its previous audience records, with 10.3 million tuning in, according to TheWrap. Some marketers even paid a reported $400K for a 30-second spot during those 75 minutes.


That’s quite a jump considering that the first season of the show in 2008 attracted an average of one million viewers per episode, and the going rate per spot was about $130K.

But NewMediaMetrics could have told advertisers that this show was gaining year-over-year momentum in Emotional Attachment™ — the content-alignment company’s proprietary measure of audience “draw”– since its third season.

According to NewMediaMetrics, viewers’ emotional attachment to “Breaking Bad” increased 60 percent from 2012 to 2013. Its rank among more than 360 cable and broadcast TV shows was 122 in 2011, and by 2013 it had risen to 31.

Beyond the high quality of the show’s writing, cinematography, cast and direction, the increase in EA and popularity is likely also attributable to the following factors:

  • Social-media buzz
  • Streaming services such as Netflix that enabled the curious to binge view and catch up with what original devotees of the show were raving about
  • Increased market penetration of tablets that make content accessible anywhere at any time

NewMediaMetrics has been saying for years that brand marketers need to think less about demographics, networks and day parts. Instead, they should concentrate more on how a very powerful and compelling piece of content pulled an ever-growing audience to it and became a bona fide pop-culture phenomenon that made AMC “the one who knocks” when it comes to scripted dramas.

Mad Men – The Thrill of Victory

Finally, after several long weeks (and at least seven episodes) the SCDP team has won the Heinz account. After several failed pitches, attempts to partner them with the Rolling Stones, not even slimy Pete Campbell could coddle them to sign on. Until Megan comes up an idea that seems simple yet brilliant – that beans, like spaghetti, will never change. It will always be a staple of family life.

Megan was fortunate enough that Raymond’s wife spilled the beans on their upcoming firing so they could pre-empt Heinz’s move. The execution and teamwork between Megan and Don was flawless. Their marriage provides a soft loving exterior for their direct, hard-nosed business motives. Afterwards in the office, the mood is jovial as everyone is celebrating their first big win since Lucky Strike.

Winning new business does not happen overnight. It takes several weeks, if not months, for things to come through. Several people have to work on the push. There’s a suspense, drama and rush that you won’t be able to find anywhere else in business. To pull from sports saying, there is a thrill of victory, but there also is the agony of defeat. At the end of the day, only one company can win, while everyone else goes home empty handed.

When attempting to seal the deal, there’s a need to be ready for anything and everything, and pre-empt spelled right?  a suspected or hinted loss with a counter-strike to appease. That’s how Megan and Don were able to seize an opportunity.

For her part, Peggy is a role model when it comes to her strong support of Megan. She recognized and saluted Megan’s success even though her own creative ideas had failed with the client. Instead of being jealous, she “took one for the team” and did what was best:  support the company as a whole.

At the end of the day, it’s a true team effort; from the start of the new business chase, through the successful win, and the (hopeful) flourishing partnership between both sides. It cannot be done by just a few people. It takes everyone from an agency to succeed, so appreciate the team you have around you.

Mad Men – Good Work: My Anti-Drug

The 60’s were quite the time to experiment. Peggy and the SCDP team certainly tried a few new things in the latest episode. Perhaps Peggy’s most questionable decision (at least the one we’re going to talk about) is her reaction to the Heinz client who did not approve the “Home is where the Heinz is” campaign. Peggy is used to having Don convince the client that the work is good. Don’s off in another realm and not paying attention to anything going on at the office.

The Heinz rep says that Peggy & Co. write down what he asks for, but they can’t give him what he wants. Peggy lashes out, saying that he knows the work is good, “young and beautiful,” and that he just likes fighting. She is immediately removed from the account and goes on a midday movie-marijuana-extracurricular bender.

It’s very important to stand behind your work and push back when you believe in your ideas. There is a thin line though between pushing back against your client and being aggressive towards your client. As we have said in previous posts, every client relationship is different, which means an appropriate tone for one client may not work for someone else. But insulting or belittling your client is never appropriate; doing so could rupture the business relationship and cost you your job.

Seeing Clearly

People stand behind their work because they’re invested in it; they’ve put time, blood, sweat and tears into creating something that they are proud of. But one needs to see the project with clear eyes, which is where the concept of a healthy work/life balance comes into play. Spending too much time at one or the other will sacrifice the quality of the neglected part.

Having enough time for both work and leisure is vital to a healthy lifestyle.  That doesn’t mean you can take off whenever you want, even if Don Draper thinks so. Think of it as a symbiotic relationship—we tend to do our best work when our personal lives are fulfilling, and we are happier outside the office when things go well on the inside.  It’s obvious the folks at SCDP have their work/life priorities out of whack. Peggy’s boyfriend reminds her, “I’m your boyfriend, not your focus group!”

While there are plenty of ways to de-stress from work, I recommend doing none of the things that Peggy, Don, or Roger did in the latest episode. Not that I speak from experience, but their actions seemed to cause more stress than release it. And given that stress usually kills the creative exchange of ideas, it’s a bad omen that so much of it is flying around SDCP.


Previous Mad Men posts on The Hit Board:

Mad Men – Fighting for New Business

Murder and Team Work: All in a Night’s Mad Men

Mad Men – Fighting for New Business

When trying to secure a new business lead, you’ve got to come out on all cylinders. In last Sunday night’s episode of Mad Men, the SCDP leaders went out with both guns-a-blazing to help land a new business lead from Jaguar.

Pete et al see dangers in having Lane—a finance guy and friend of the Jaguar exec— as the point person on such a big account. But they themselves head into danger when Pete, always apt to show clients a wonderful time in the city, takes them all to a brothel (sans Lane).  Edwin’s wife finds outs and SCDP loses the business altogether.

While we at DGC don’t recommend such *extreme* measures to garner business, we do believe that relationship-building takes time and hard work.

Getting off on the right foot with a client is tricky– kind of like dating. You don’t want to do or say the wrong thing. You have to feel each other out, learn how the other person operates, and keep both parties happy. The desire to please can cause you to make some bad decisions you later regret.

In a professional services business, several factors can make or break a relationship. It’s a mix of chemistry; expertise; the ability, on both sides, to negotiate and resolve conflict; mutual respect, and some old-fashioned common sense (something the fellas at SCDP were sorely lacking throughout Sunday’s episode.)

And also, we recommend a post-mortem when you do lose a piece of business. Discuss what went wrong. What would you have done differently, and what will you do differently in the future to avoid a similar situation?  A hard-and-fast rule:  no physical fighting, no matter how much the Roger-type in the office wants to see it. There’s always a professional way to solve things. If anything, settle your differences on our ping pong table.

How Much Have We Really Changed?

In the weeks leading up to the season premier of AMC’s Mad Men, various business publications had a field day showcasing the sexist ads of earlier eras.

As astonishing as some of them are, it’s legitimate to ask just how much society and the industry have evolved, especially when you consider that the percentage of women comprising the advertising workforce has remained flat—holding at 55 percent since 1982, the earliest available data from the 4A’s.

Belvedere vodka recently ran an online ad that was suggestive of an attempted rape.  A steakhouse in Georgia thought it was funny to post on Facebook the name of one of its sandwiches—the Caribbean black and bleu–in honor of Chris Brown and singer Rihanna. And who could forget last year’s Chapstick ad?

In all three instances, the ads went viral, not because people thought them clever, but because consumers wanted to express anger and disgust at words and images that were demeaning or made light of violence against women.

Even though the companies apologized for the ads, it’s tempting to lament that societal attitudes about these issues haven’t changed much. However, the speed with which consumers can and do shame brands on social media regarding questionable messages gives us reason to hope.

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