Those of you who read my other blog, or follow me on Twitter, probably know that I've become a bit obsessed in these waning days of August with the appearance of more and more characters from "Mad Men" on Twitter, acting completely in character, save for the salient fact that the service didn't exist in the early 1960s.
But no matter. It's been fun to wake up in the morning and find that Sal Romano, the AMC show's Italian art director, is now following me, or that Peggy Olson, the show's secretary-turned-copywriter, has been staying up late at night worrying about the office.
The "Mad Men" Twitterers have been good enough at staying in character to cause many of us to wonder if AMC had engineered the whole effort. Until yesterday, when the accounts of the Twitter version of lead character Don Draper, and other characters were de-activated, allegedly because AMC had asked Twitter to pull the plug on the amusing charade. I did attempt to contact AMC about this, and found myself talking to a young-sounding, clueless PR woman, who, when I mentioned the situation, said, "What was the name of that Web site again?" I was afraid when she repeated "Twitter" back to me she'd say something really embarrassing, like. "The Twitters." She didn't. Phew. Worst fears not realized. (A second attempt to call AMC resulted in me getting passed around the joint, until I got disconnected. I gave up.)
While lawyers at AMC were no doubt burning up the phone lines between New York and Twitter's San Francisco headquarters much of yesterday, and the PR people knew nothing, sites including TVtattle.com, VentureBeat and the Chicago Tribune's "The Watcher" blog had all picked up on the missing "Mad Men" characters. Said the Trib's Maureen Ryan, "The people doing these Twitters for the show's fictional characters are obviously huge fans of 'Mad Men.' That's how the media operates these days -- your biggest fans are the people who often do your viral marketing for you. The Twitters were completely harmless and were just one more way for fans to enjoy the show."
Finally, a voice of reason coming from an actual person!
As not all of the fake "Mad Men" characters got kicked off of Twitter simultaneously, those still around by mid-afternoon yesterday mused about how things might shake out with so many staffers of Sterling Cooper, the fictional ad agency on "Mad Men", gone. Said mailroom guy @Bud_Melman: "Not to sound opportunistic, but if @don_draper is really gone, that might mean some room to move up. Maybe I'll get a chair!"
At this point in the column, I was going to go on about the usual: how AMC doesn't understand that these people impersonating "Mad Men" characters are good for the show, how lawyers sometimes enforce out the law without regard to whether it's sometimes OK to turn the other cheek, and so forth.
But then something really peculiar happened while I was busy making dinner and doing laundry: the "Mad Men" characters began to reinhabit Twitter, a fact I discovered upon reading this tweet, posted at about 8:30 last night by Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer: "MAD MEN twiterrers are BACK y'all! This story isn't over yet..." Schafer linked to the Silicon Alley Insider, which says that, well, Deep Focus, AMC's Web marketing agency, persuaded its client not to have Twitter suspend the accounts of the "Mad Men" characters. So now, I have to change the tune of this column and say that, as of this writing, AMC has come to understand that these people just might be good for the show, and that sometimes lawyers can turn the other cheek.
By 9:30 last night, @don_draper was back, tweeting: "Doing what I do best - moving forward with my life like today never happened."
And all was right with the world.