Don Draper Is Selling Lucky Strikes, And Not Just On ‘Mad Men’

In 2007 Mad Men premiered, and Don Draper sat in a bar trying to figure out how to sell Lucky Strikes. By the middle of the episode he used his now infamous Don Draper magic to sell the tag line “It’s Toasted.” In the real world, Lucky Strike sales have gone up 50% since 2007, in spite of restrictive laws against advertising tobacco in most countries. The Ivey Business Review wonders if it doesn’t have something to do with Don Draper’s ineffable cool:

The cigarette industry has historically traded on one of the most ethereal concepts known to man: “coolness”. But since the mid-2000s, this feeling (as well as any other) has been firmly outside the reach of the brands themselves…In Mad Men, BAT had a show that epitomized “cool” masculinity and virility and positioned cigarettes as any anytime activity – all without running afoul of a single regulation or ban.

Lucky Strike isn’t the only brand to benefit from Mad Men’s popularity. Sales of Canadian Club Whiskey had been declining for seventeen years before Mad Men (and Boardwalk Empire) had begun to air. Since then they have enjoyed 4.3% compound annual growth, which might seem modest but is more than 3 times the growth of every other type of whiskey that company (Beam) sells. Beam even capitalized on the moment by releasing an ad campaign featuring vintage photos of “manly” men drinking whiskey and looking cool.

As anyone who’s ever watched someone describe the features of a car on a basic cable television show can tell you, product placement is extremely common. Ten billion dollars is spent on placement every year, with over half that number occurring within the United States. It doesn’t always have the intended effect, and in fact the two brands in this study didn’t even pay for placement in the shows, though they’ve obviously benefited from it. One brand that probably hasn’t benefited from the “Mad Men effect?” John Deere.

Source: Ivey Business Review