September 28, 2011

Branded Networking: PAN AM & THE PLAYBOY CLUB

There has been a lot of anticipation this TV season about two shows aping AMC's hit series MAD MEN and its '60s nostalgia.  But what's more interesting to me about these shows is that they have both have adopted the corporate logo of their respective companies, Playboy and Pan Am, as their main image for advertising and promotions.  That actually harkens back to the 1950s when advertisers regularly sponsored entire programs, like the Camel News Caravan (which featured Edward R. Murrow) and soap operas (thus the name).

Marketing aside, the proof is in the pilot as they say. So I checked them both out over the weekend.  THE PLAYBOY CLUB is an odd show and not at all what I expected.  It seems more interested in being GLEE than MAD MEN, with it's musical numbers, fluffiness and homosexuals (there was even a meeting of the Mattachine Society?!).  With a strange voice-of-God narration by Hugh Hefner, the show just doesn't really make sense in the end.  

As for PAN AM, it was a lot more coherent as a show about 4 stewardesses flying transatlantic Clipper service on the storied airline.  But it also pulls a bit of a bait-and-switch in that it's less MAD MEN and more akin to a flying LOVE BOAT. Not that that's a bad thing....but it's an awfully small boat :)  This show seems more likely to succeed as an actual interesting program as opposed to a 45-minute commercial which is somewhat ironic, given Pan Am is not currently in business.  However there is a newly launched shopping site where you can buy everything from bags to key chains with the company's  iconic blue logo. Given the state of the air travel industry, this approach will probably be much more profitable than restarting the actual airline.

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