Anatomy of a Brilliant Communications Rollout for Mad Men’s Final Season

mad menThe first half of the final season of Mad Men will premiere on Sunday on AMC, and with it will come culmination of a well-orchestrated product rollout specifically designed to build buzz for the show. TV shows have encroached on movies as centers of excellence for art and culture, and the PR behind Don Draper's last season exemplifies how popular shows and their premieres have become events that actually are worthy of hype.

Ahead of the premiere on Sunday, let's take a look at what the communications pros working for Mad Men have been up to:

Matthew Weiner: The show's creator and producer is notoriously secretive, sending detailed anti-spoiler instructions with screeners, controlling sets before and after shooting, and revealing little in the lead up to the previous six seasons. Ahead of the final season, however, Weiner has made himself and his sets available to the media, talking with Vulture, TIME, Huffington Post and NPR, to name a few, and pontificating on what Don Draper means for America. In terms of a media relations strategy, this is a relatively easy one—create a massively popular show, vigilantly defend against spoilers and take few interviews for six seasons, and then open the floodgates when your show needs a final shot of hype.

Splitting the final season into two parts: When AMC's other incredibly popular show, Breaking Bad, was coming to an end in 2012-2013, the network decided to split the final season into two parts. From a ratings perspective, the results were brilliant, with the second half of the final season breaking all sorts of records (10.3 million people watched the final episode). While some may argue that the gimmick will dilute Mad Men's final season, there's no doubt that keeping the show around for a bit longer will boost its popularity. And a midseason cliff hanger is always a good idea.

Milton Glaser's ad design: Those trippy, multicolor ads you've been seeing advertising Mad Men's final season were designed by Milton Glaser, a heavyweight whom many credit with defining the effusive style of 1960's advertising. (See his designs through the decades here, here and here.) It's no surprise that the show wanted his help in promoting its swansong. When your ad campaign itself generates its own media attention, you're doing something right.

10-Foot-Tall Old Fashioned Cocktails: Don Draper, his colleagues and his friends like to drink, so ahead of the series premiere the team at Attack! Marketing set up 10-foot-high cocktail glasses in New York (in front of Madison Square Garden) and Los Angeles (on the corner of Hollywood and Highland). As the premiere approaches, the contents of what most assume to be Don Draper's signature Old Fashioned will steadily drain.

Follow Brian Greene: @bwilliamgreene

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