Thursday, October 7, 2010

the twepisode: what TV can't show, takes place on twitter

If you're a Mad Men fan, you may have been disappointed to realize we weren't going to see Don take Sally to the Beatles. It was a pretty sure bet that even Matt Weiner couldn't have resurrected Shea Stadium or put the call out for 55,000 extras. So for fun and education, we took it to the twitterverse this weekend. We created a hashtag #mmbeatles to make tweets easy to follow. And linked tweets to vintage photos and footage to provide a visual dimension. We set up an account for Shea (@Shea1965) to be the spokes-stadium. Momentum was added by other tweeters who got into the act, including Mad Men on Twitter new to this season, like, um, Don's liver. It's the first time a historical event was live-tweeted by fictional characters.

Here's a moviola of excerpts, with linked images and video. Check out the full stream while it's still up at #mmbeatles. Thanks to twitter Maddicts who participated, whose improv talent made it happen.

I launched this crazy experiment not only because I'm a Mad Men fan addict, but because I'm fascinated by the current proliferation of new ways and places to extend and dimensionalize story. Perhaps there's potential for television shows to increase viewer involvment by "staging" unfilmed scenes on twitter. Could we have stumbled upon a new form of entertainment? In which what television can't show is played out on twitter? The twepisode. Stay twuned.


Anonymous said...

Holy smokes, Ad Broad! Too bad the MacArthur Foundation just awarded their "genius awards." This is brilliant.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Thanks, Anonymous. Glad you liked it. Geez, sure wish it was *you* handing out those Big Macs ;)

Anonymous said...

Can you please give the obsessive mad men fan-from-hell bit a rest? We get it. You need validation.

You have no clue as to how your behavior plays out behind the scenes, do you? This video that you obviously spent hours on, then retweeted over and over and over, only shows a 50-ish woman who is totally outside the zeitgeist.

Especially when the talk at sxsw is that you are most of the mad men characters and you fake stats for panels - this is fairly well known - even by ppl who occasionally answer your tweets (me included). And will this uninteresting and largely unviewed video be repositioned and packaged as transformative advertising? Probably.

How many characters tweeting back and forth are just you and no one else? Word is it's basically smoke and mirrors, with you exaggerating situations and then pitching as a global phenomenon. Just letting you know what is out there.

You're a good writer, but enough with betty already. If you want credibility, work on bringing something new to the table.

This is just a piece of advice that you can take or leave.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

You're certainly right about me being obsessive, Anonymous. But it's a trait I've found useful over the years in attempts to produce best possible creative.

I'm sorry that my Mad Men adventures have caused you and others disgruntlement. Me, I'm just grateful to Matt Weiner and AMC for allowing us to run away with their characters, and continuing to grant us freedom to explore. I think of Mad Men on Twitter as kind of a petri dish, where we're free to play around with ideas that every now and then combust into a concept that hasn't been done before, like this one.

As for giving @BettyDraper a rest, I'd venture that 30,000 followers would disagree.

Howie said...

Love the clip. My Dad is exactly the Madmen generation. He was best friends with Art Garfunkel in High School, Paul Simon went to the same school Forest Hills High. So he got into the Beatles big time, and S&G. But funny thing happened. It ended there. He never gatewayed into the later 60's rock and hippy culture. Not sure why. He was a High School teacher. He is mostly liberal but still conservative in many ways (not cool on gay marriage for some reason).

I realized just the other day I never asked my folks about the 60's and what they were doing besides living in Queens and keeping their heads low LOL.

And yes I am amazed at what gets linked via Twitter. The other night @southsideadguy was rooting for the Toronto Maple Leafs. I looked up on Wikipedia that the last Stanley Cup was 1967 the year I was born. Obviously a good year 8)
He immediately linked a video of the last 4 minutes of the game and told me he was at the victory parade.

I love the Twitter!

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

What a cool dad you have @Howie! Best friends with Art Garfunkel?!--my hero during high school years, oh those bridges over troubled waters. Love your Stanley Cup story, too. Agree about twitter--interesting how it enriches your life with fascinating, unexpected connections.

RobCeron said...

I’ll add my two cents. Perhaps the above poster was too strong with the comments, although I have never been to SXSW. I checked out the video and it was cute and if fans like it, why not? I also searched the hashtag you keep mentioning and it appears it was an event with about 30 participants in addition to some the mad men characters. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say 100 participants. With the video having 700 views thus far (with repeat views counted), it is fair to say that this experiment is for a niche mad men fan base and not for advertisers. Even Betty’s 30,000 followers translates into, at most, a few hundred active followers at any given time, as anyone with even minimal knowledge of twitter knows.

The twitter mad men characters are a fun addition to the show. (I hope you are not most of the characters as that lowers the value of a community-based phenomenon astronomically.) Either way, it is fair to say that none of this is adding any financial value to the show or adding viewership. It’s for the existing hard-core fan in that it adds an element of fun, which is good enough.

However, I do agree with above poster that you tend to spend a lot of time trying to hammer a round peg into a square hole in terms of “transformative advertising.” It is what it is, which is good enough.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Thanks for the read and for taking time to put in your thoughtful two cents @RobCeron. You make a fair point. Numbers for this event are infinitesimal, especially when compared with the show's 2 million viewership. But the point of this post isn’t to present a case study. It's to suggest a model I think has potential to increase audience engagement: staged microdramas on twitter in which viewers can participate. The key to success would be brand support and promotion. Say Mad Men had "officialized" this event, supporting it with print and web and TV copy inviting viewers to tweet a role in "Don Takes Sally to the Beatles". The event might have achieved a different level of traction. As a fan stand-alone, reach and impact of such an effort is limited, as you rightly point out.

FYI, I'm perplexed by the commenter's claim that I "fake stats" for panels. My talks are mainly about exploratory ideas that I think have potential in commercial arenas. Mad Men on Twitter events have been fan-based efforts for which I couldn't possibly have stats, not having access to AMC proprietary data. I do present data for campaigns done by others, but check with creators before incorporating into presentations, i.e. Deep Focus' awesome Mad Men Yourself cited at SXSW with stats kindly provided by CEO Ian Schafer.

Data is important, of course, and it's great we can slice and dice it down to impressively minute sectors. But data-driven decisions tend to support replication. Let's not forget there's also value in exploring uncharted territory.