Entertainment Marketers 2008

Entertainment Marketers 2008: Linda Schupack

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A show about the world of advertising in the 1960s deserves, well, standout advertising.

"The less we said, the more we teased, the better," says Linda Schupack, AMC's senior VP-marketing.

Rather than focus on the campaign pitches and sordid client-account exec relations that occur in "Mad Men," Ms. Schupack revolved the show's initial print and outdoor campaign around a singular image: a silhouette of main character Don Draper (Jon Hamm) sitting in his office chair nursing a glass of whiskey with a cigarette in his hand.
Selected for:
'Mad Men'
  • Stark, singular image in outdoor campaign
  • Reinvents movie network as a destination
  • 75% bump in time slot and a pile of awards

A similar approach was applied to the show's TV spots, which played up "Mad Men's" frequent boozing and smoking (this was the era of the three-martini lunch, after all) and scandalous intra-office affairs as Amy Winehouse's retro-sultry single "You Know I'm No Good" snaked along on the soundtrack. Ms. Schupack says the song perfectly summarized the show's goal to make its period trappings modern, relatable and sexy.

"It gave people the feeling that this is not a musty, fusty period drama by any means," she says. "It's a very contemporary, edgy drama that also has a cheeky sensibility about itself as well."

High praise
After the show premiered to 1.4 million viewers in July, a respectable debut for an original cable series and a 75% increase in AMC's Thursday night time slot, the critics took over Ms. Schupack's marketing duties. "Mad Men" earned a spot on many yearend top-10 lists and racked up even more high-profile awards. The Golden Globes awarded AMC with awards for best TV drama series and best actor in a drama series (Mr. Hamm), the Directors Guild recognized Alan Taylor for helming the series' pilot, and even the Peabodys bestowed their highest TV honor on the show in April.

"Mad Men" also put AMC on the map as more than just a movie network but a destination for premium original programming. A second original drama, "Breaking Bad," premiered to similar critical adoration in January.

The outpouring of accolades and cultural recognition has certainly raised the bar for season two at the fictional Sterling Cooper agency, which will premiere in July. Ms. Schupack will be taking a decidedly inverse approach to her marketing strategy this time around.

"Last year it was very much a tease," she says. "This year we will reveal."
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