Mad Men – dripping in history, branding, great design

David Bellm

January 29, 2014

2 Min Read
Mad Men – dripping in history, branding, great design

It’s no secret to the folks around the Packaging Digest offices that I’m a rabid fan of the AMC show Mad Men. And believe me, I’m not the only one. Hey, how can we not be? Ad campaigns from one of the most compelling eras in marketing, vintage props with stunning accuracy, and cool old packaging sprinkled about throughout in just the right amounts.

It’s a treat for anyone who’s into this stuff.

I’m finding that the branding and marketing history they cite in the show is pretty solid too. In the last episode, one of the two newly-anointed Head of Accounts has a shot at a new diet cola called Patio, being introduced by none other than Pepsi.

Well, I’d never heard of “Patio” cola, despite my enthusiasm for vintage packaging. But a quick Google search revealed that the folks at AMC have it covered. They have a page that gives a nice history lesson on the brand.

Turns out, Patio was a short lived early 1960s shot at then diet-soda category giant Diet Rite Cola from rival cola-maker Royal Crown. After about a year or two, the Pepsi folks gave up on the Patio name, and simply called the beverage Diet Pepsi – and in the process completely reinvented the way diet sodas are marketed.

In later years, the move proved so successful that it’s said to have a lot to do with Coca-Cola pretty much leaving its Tab brand to wither in favor of Diet Coke.

Cool stuff! Can’t wait to see how all that plays out for the Sterling Cooper gang this Sunday.

My next little Mad Men bit is the very cool packaging for the 2nd season DVD set. The first year was a big metal facsimile of a Zippo lighter. Ha! Perfect for the age in which seemingly everyone was lighting up day and night.

So what period icon could they invoke as a follow up? How about the classic shirt box. Another well chosen icon of an era in which no man would even contemplate going to work without putting on a perfectly-pressed, heavily starched shirt and a neatly tied tie.

It doesn’t really show all that well in this pic, but the package isn’t just a flat printing of the image on the cover – it’s actually beneath a transparent surface that mimics a shirtbox. Very cool.

There. Enough gushing from me. If you’re a fan of cool packaging, advertising, branding, design, or anything else involving style, then you have to watch this show – Sunday, AMC, 10:OOp Eastern Time.


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