Eight O'Clock, the 150-year-old coffee brand that's been making waves on the social media front, is looking to build on the buzz by hooking up with "Mad Men," the retro-cool AMC cable network show whose often-ambiguous plots seem made to order for being parsed on blogs, Twitter and the like.
The coffee brand is sponsoring three new "Mad Men" social media applications created by AMC to generate viral buzz about the series' third season, which premieres Aug. 16.
"Mad Men Yourself," launched Wednesday on its own microsite (madmenyourself.com), lets fans create customized, '60s-style avatars reminiscent of the show's characters. Dyna Moe, who has become Internet-famous as a result of her drawings of scenes from the show, also lent her illustration style to the avatar app.
Two other apps, hosted on AMCTV.com, are scheduled to launch Aug. 10 and run through November.
"Which Mad Man Are You?," a trivia quiz game, will enable users to determine which show character they most closely resemble, based on answering a series of questions. Eight O'Clock will have brand presence on the home page and through banner ads.
Finally, there are "Mad Men eCards," created by Eight O'Clock's agency, Boonton, N.J.-based S3, which is behind the brand's social media drive. The cards, featuring "Mad Men" characters and messages like reminders about the next episode's date/time, are intended to be shared, and encourage viewing parties and virtual chatter about the show. Banner ads on AMC's site will link fans to the ecards.
All three apps can be used through Facebook, Twitter, iPhone and AIM.
The show and brand are a strong match for several reasons, S3 President Denise McVey tells Marketing Daily. Eight O'Clock is a brewed-at-home brand that was also popular during the '60s, and "Mad Men" vignettes often show social encounters over coffee in a kitchen (although they're outnumbered by cocktail-oriented social encounters), for example.
Moreover, the show's demographics line up "very closely' with Eight O'Clock's, she reports. The brand's average customer age range is about 30 to 35, and -- "believe it or not," jests McVey -- more women than men watch "Mad Men."
Eight O'Clock's Twitter initiatives began with becoming a "follower" of nearly 2,000 (now 2,700) Twitterati chosen because their profiles seem to indicate that they have "great taste." In turn, the brand's Twitter page now has about 2,600 followers. Within a few hours after the launch of the avatar app, the brand had tweeted a message to numerous individuals who had apparently created avatars: "Nice avatar! Did you know that 'Mad Men Yourself' is 'fueled' by Eight O'Clock Coffee?"
Why follow Eight O'Clock Coffee on Twitter? Interestingly, a new post by blogger "chameleon'sdream" on CoffeebreakToday.com is devoted to exactly that topic. The post alludes to the "Mad Men" avatar app sponsorship as "just on more thing in a long list of cool things" he or she has learned on Twitter via the brand's PR. Others cited include a "Discover the Difference" contest with a $10,000 prize; the brand's Accumul8 Rewards program; "some incredible dessert recipes"; and "off the wall fun stuff" such as the brand's having tweeted virtual cups of coffee to all who requested these on one recent day.
In terms of exposure via "Mad Men," the social media/viral route could generate as much or more for a brand as commercials on the show itself, at least if you're counting only an episode's first run on AMC. (The show is also available via free on-demand on iO cable, online and via pay-for DVD sets.) While critically acclaimed -- it won two Emmys (including best drama series) in its first season and has been nominated for 16 for season two - "Mad Men"'s highest Nielsen numbers have only reached about 2 million.
Eight O'Clock senior brand manager Alisa Jacoby described the app sponsorships as bringing together a "top-rated coffee" and an "award-winning series."
Eight O'Clock -- for many years the A&P house brand, and acquired in August 2006 by Tata Coffee Ltd of India -- is the country's top-selling whole-bean brand. It had $38.5 million in U.S. retail sales last year, giving it 1.98% market share and a ninth-place share ranking within the total retail coffee market, according to Gale Publishers' Market Share Report. In March, after Consumer Reports rated it as the best buy among ground brews, its VP, marketing, David Allen, told Associated Press that the brand's share in grocery stores had jumped from 4.3% to 5.5% in the latest four-week period, per IRI data.
One question: Were the Eight O'Clock sponsorships inspired in any way by the prominent featuring of Martinson coffee as a "client" in a "Mad Men" season two episode? Not so, says McVey, who notes that AMC approached Eight O'Clock, not vice-versa.