Turn ad inspired by 'Mad Men'

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Turn, a cloud computing company, debuted an ad campaign during the season finale of AMC's “Mad Men,” creating a spoof of the award-winning advertising drama to showcase the company's technology. The finale, which ran June 10, drew 2.6 million viewers to their TV sets, up 15% from last year's finale and the most-watched episode in the show's five-year history. The campaign, created by gyro San Francisco, is aimed at marketing executives and media buyers, and shows how Turn's cloud-based digital marketing platform can help marketers execute cross-channel campaigns. The campaign budget was estimated at approximately $500,000, including the media buy. “We recently launched a video advertising-optimization product that helps brand marketers run online video campaigns,” said Paul Alfieri, VP-global marketing at Turn. “When we first started working with gyro [Turn's agency of record], we started talking about how great technology deserves great creative. How can we build great creative that reflects the passion our team at Turn has? We went through five or six idea concepts, and almost immediately this concept stood out.” Gyro proposed breaking the campaign on “Mad Men” to reach Turn's target audience of marketers and ad agency executives, and to leverage the large social community around the program. The spot, which Alfieri said was inspired by the “Mad Men” series, is set in the offices of a Madison Avenue ad agency in the 1960s. In the spot, an agency executive and a woman are passionately embracing when another woman enters the office and fires a gun. The spot ends with a slow-motion view of the bullet heading straight toward the couple, while voice-over says, “In 10 milliseconds, Turn delivers your ad to all the right online audiences with deadly accuracy. Never second-guess a decision—at least not a business one.” “There is a burning cigarette in this commercial, a couple makes love, a weapon is fired—none of those things happen in commercials, but they happen in this one,” said Steffan Postaer, executive creative director at gyro San Francisco. “It's a game-changer.” Alfieri said the spot has two important elements that tell the Turn story. “First is the decision,” he said. “The spot leads you to figure out "Who did she decide to shoot?' The decision is very similar to decisions marketers make every day—who do we target? The second is the metaphor of the bullet, demonstrating just how fast we can react and decide if we should buy an ad impression on behalf of a customer.” Turn was very intent on including the phrase “10 milliseconds” in the spot, Alfieri said, because it demonstrates just how fast Turn's technology is able to provide feedback to its advertisers about online audience behavior. He added that Turn was also very concerned about creating a spot that was stylistically and thematically consistent with “Mad Men.” “The team at gyro was meticulous about the shot,” he said. “The texture of the visual is very rich. We were able to do something that was inspired by "Mad Men.' It is an advertisement about advertising on a show about advertising. We really created our own little vignette.” Alfieri said Turn doesn't typically advertise on television, but two factors contributed to the decision to run the TV campaign: “First is the audience makeup, and second, the finale is appointment TV. I know I will get the maximum audience.” “Given how the show sets up the season finale, there was a lot of speculation about what was going to happen. It enabled the commercial to do branding for Turn,” he said. The spot also ran June 10 during the finale of “The Pitch,” a reality show on AMC about ad agencies. The campaign is supported by a microsite at On the site, users can watch the TV spot, as well as spots with two alternate endings, and share comments about them. Turn also created back stories about the characters featured in the spot, which are available on the website. In addition, the site features an online journal that documents Turn's own decision-making process in developing the campaign. “We kept a journal of all the decision points we made,” Alfieri said. “As a b-to-b marketer, we don't want to stop at the TV commercial. The journal lets marketers know all the decisions we made along the way.” Product information, case studies and white papers can also be found on the site.
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