Like a lot of folks, my favourite television series at the moment is Mad Men. I’m not sure I like it because it’s such a fascinating portrait of ad agency professionals operating in New York city in the early 1960s, or because I simply pine for the days when a man could smoke and drink at the office and had a secretary to type letters and fetch things.
And now I have another reason to like Mad Men — the advertising.
Last week, we watched the premiere episode of season four, and like the two previous season premieres, it featured a special advertising vignette by the series’ title sponsor, BMW.
The vignette featured Martin Purvis talking casually about the ad he created for the original 5 Series. Purris was the creative half of Amerarti Purris (BMW’s first U.S. ad agency), and the man who came up with the iconic BMW slogan, “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”
After his talk, they ran that historical 5 Series spot, followed by a new spot for the all-new 5 Series.
Brilliant. It told an intriguing part of BMW history, showed how consistent its engineering mission and marketing message has been through the years, informed viewers about a new model, and did it all in a manner that was totally Mad Men.
The idea to feature Martin Purvis in this ad, and in another Mad Men vignette three years ago, came from Pat McKenna, manager of marketing communications and consumer events for BMW North America. During our recent telephone conversation, McKenna told me that viewers have responded well to BMW’s wink to the Mad Men narrative.
BMW only hauls out custom creative during the season premieres. The custom ad for the second season premiere actually featured Mad Men footage.
“We pulled out new technologies from Mad Men, like the rotary phone, slide projector, and the photocopy machine,” said McKenna. “It was our way of taking the discussion to our current modern technologies, like our new diesel engines.”
He added that, “BMW is very proud of our sponsorship of Mad Men” and that it gives the automaker the opportunity to both “Celebrate our own advertising legacy, and pay a tribute to the craft. This is our homage to Mad Men and to advertising.”
Michael Goetz has been writing about cars and editing automotive publications for over 20 years. He lives in Toronto with his family and a neglected 1967 Jaguar E-type.