Is TV ready for retro hour?
With AMC's 1960s-themed ad-agency drama "Mad Men" having gained critical acclaim (if not spectacular ratings ), two broadcast networks are set to open their own windows on eras long past. NBC is readying "The Playboy Club," a dramatic and titillating look at what it might have been like to work at or attend the after-hours milieu portrayed in the title, while ABC is taxiing down the runway with "Pan Am."
What's ticking behind TV's interest in being a time machine? Perhaps the networks are jealous of some of the awards and attention being showered on AMC. But more likely, the broadcast outlets know nostalgia is a powerful lure to reach the 40-something adults who represent the upper end of the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 audience spectrum and hope the opportunity to explore a bypassed time period will appeal to the young'uns at the opposite end.
"The emergence of these shows is more than just simple nostalgia," said Denis Riney, exec VP-marketing at BrandLogic, a Wilton, Conn., brand consultancy. "Brands like Pan Am and Playboy are emotional signposts that transport us back to an era when America was No. 1. Now that we're not even AAA-rated, we long to experience the swagger of the Rat Pack era and a type of lusty, boozy lifestyle we used to call class."