Posted on 05 Apr 2013 by Neilson
A television series about advertising will again feature advertising about advertising.
The series is "Mad Men," which begins its sixth season with a two-hour episode Sunday night. Nationwide Insurance has made a deal with AMC, the cable channel that is home to "Mad Men," to become a season-long sponsor of the series, making this the first time the company has advertised on AMC.
The agreement, which includes sponsorship of other AMC series like "The Walking Dead," has an estimated value of $2 million to $2.5 million. As part of the deal, Nationwide will run during a coming episode of "Mad Men" a special commercial, styled to resemble a programming vignette. The special spot will be in addition to appearances during the show's season of regular commercials that are part of the current campaign for Nationwide, which carry the slogan "Join the Nation" and use the actress Julia Roberts as the voice-over announcer.
The special commercial is to feature Matt Jauchius, chief marketing officer at Nationwide, discussing the company's advertising history, including a memorandum found in the Nationwide archives, which contain materials that date to its founding in 1926 as the Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.
The memo was written on May 13, 1964, by the Nationwide advertising agency at the time, Ogilvy, Benson & Mather, now known as Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. The memo suggested seven possible replacements for what was then the slogan for Nationwide's ads, "In service with people," which, Mr. Jauchius said in a phone interview, had been in use "pretty much since the founding" of the company.
The suggestions included "Nationwide is on your side," "On your side ... Nationwide," "Nationwide ... a friend in need from cradle to grave" and "You'd send a friend to Nationwide." Nationwide executives chose to rework "Nationwide is on your side" into "The man from Nationwide is on your side," Mr. Jauchius said, adding the first three words to reflect that "we distributed our products through agents" - who, in "a sign of the times," were referred to as men.
The slogan was changed to "Nationwide is on your side" in 1973, he added, when the company adopted a seven-note jingle that was heard in its commercials for decades.
The memo was signed by an Ogilvy executive named Ted Shaw. Coincidentally, there has been a character on "Mad Men" since the fourth season - an agency executive who is a rival of the principal characters on the series - named Ted Chaough, pronounced "Shaw." (Chaough appears in Sunday's episode.)
The educated and affluent viewers who watch "Mad Men," particularly those ages 18 to 49, "are exactly the people we want to reach," said Mr. Jauchius, who works in Columbus, Ohio.
Even more appealingly, "the people who watch ‘Mad Men' love the show and watch it religiously," he added, "and if they see a brand that supports their passion, it's something they'll pay more attention to."
Mr. Jauchius likened that fervor for the series to the avid viewership of sports programming. Nationwide is a major advertiser on coverage of Nascar races, sponsoring the Nascar Nationwide Series, and with the National Football League playoffs last year, "we became more of a buyer" of commercial time during football games, he said.
The deal between AMC and Nationwide was made during the "upfront" negotiations for the 2012-13 season by the media agency for Nationwide, which is Universal McCann in New York, part of the Mediabrands division of the Interpublic Group of Companies. The script for the special commercial was written by AMC, "in close partnership with the Nationwide brand team," Mr. Jauchius said. (The agency that creates Nationwide's regular commercials is McKinney in Durham, N.C., part of Cheil Worldwide.)
Nationwide joins a lengthy list of marketers to work with AMC on producing special commercials for "Mad Men" in addition to running regular spots. Others include BMW; the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, for Canada Dry; the Clorox Company, for Clorox bleach; and Unilever, for six brands like Dove, Hellmann's and Vaseline.
Because "Mad Men" is about Madison Avenue, it "is in the unique position of enabling us to tell a brand's story," said Scott Collins, executive vice president for ad sales at the AMC and WE TV cable channels that are part of AMC Networks.
"We've been chasing them and wooing them" to advertise on AMC, Mr. Collins said, referring to Nationwide executives, and thus he was pleasantly surprised when at a meeting he was presented with "this large pitch book, called ‘AMC and "Mad Men" and Nationwide, a Match Made on Madison Avenue,' " which recounted the company's ad heritage.
For instance, Mr. Collins said, when he read the slogan "The man from Nationwide is on your side," "I thought how perfectly ‘Mad Men'-ish that line is," referring to a central theme of the series, the unequal treatment of the sexes in the 1960s.
The special commercial is scheduled to run during the June 16 episode of "Mad Men," he added, the next-to-last of the sixth season.
"It's a pleasant burden," Mr. Collins said, to deal with the heightened scrutiny that commercials during "Mad Men" receive, particularly as the series "gets more and more precious as the end nears." (Plans call for seven seasons.)
"There are lots of times I get an e-mail on a Sunday night about a position," he added, referring to complaints over a spot's placement. "The reverse would be, no one cares; I cannot tell you how much they care."