Sunday, April 3, 2011

Remember When, Mad Men

Recent entertainment industry news has highlighted that the next season of Mad Men will likely not be seen until 2012. This delay will likely accumulate into a perceived hiatus for fans of this show, seriously undermining its longevity in the process. Put into marketing parlance, think “buzz kill”. This author would like nothing better to be proven wrong about the foregoing prediction, but while not exactly an entertainment law per se, it is axiomatic that supply creates demand and the converse is just as true: lack of supply decreases demand.
While no program lasts forever, diminishing the supply of a show tends not to be a recipe for success: viewers will (literally) look elsewhere for similar and/or other programming.
Sadly, business and marketing history repeatedly reveal examples of this sort of scenario. Remember Rainier Beer? They had an ad campaign that garnered much attention many years ago: a television ad containing a motorcycle sound matched with a voice over that went, “raiiii-nieeeeer-beeeeeeeer” as the visual of the motorcycle drove towards a mountain and out of the frame. It quickly became the talk-of-the-town and people flocked to their local stores to buy it. Guess what? Rainier Beer did not have sufficient stock to meet the demand and the product became past history all to quickly. And granted, while entertainment is not beer, sometimes a little bit of Harvard Business Review-type analysis can be revealing; what does not work for selling a physical product might just not work for marketing a motion picture, a play, a television show, a radio program or a podcast.
In the case of Mad Men, what was supplied was a show that had similarities to The Sopranos (there Tony was the man-in-the-corner-office; in Mad Men, Don Draper occupies a similar role) with intelligent writing, an excellent cast, outstanding production and so on, and so on. Unfortunately, and as with The Sopranos, as seasons progress with Mad Men, it looks like there are going to be longer gaps between each season and fewer shows per season.
Not to sound too much like the penultimate pessimist here, this author can offer up an example of another program whose supply created demand and, in turn, that demand was progressively satisfied. The original Star Trek series turned out to be such a hit that the original (and later) fans never forgot it. Later, movies with the original cast came out. Then, there was Star Trek, The Next Generation. After that, more movies. And after that, another series. Thus was created that Star Trek “franchise”, an ongoing movable feast.
Food – be it actual or proverbial – for thought.

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