Social networks and Mad Men

One of the issues I’ve been discussing with advertising/ marketing/ social media people lately (I need a word that serves as an umbrella for all three – if anyone has any suggestions, let me know), is that of consumers being at the heart of most brand communications these days. The days of one-way communication from the brand to the consumer is finito. It’s about talking with the consumer, not AT them, and in many cases they come up with the actual content. That explains the reason for many retail brands creating social networks of their own, to make use of this collective wisdom, or to foster it, in a sense. The first of the latest of these is the very unlikely Sears department store (why ‘unlikely’, you ask? Because I’ve never thought of Sears as a particularly modern brand. This may be my own prejudice, I admit. If anyone thinks of Sears as a with-it brand, I’d love to know your reasons). Sears now has a website called the Arrive Lounge, for which they have partnerships with a load of other teen and tween-focussed franchises and networks, like High School Musical, GoFish.com, Nick.com, FunBrain.com, even MySpace and Facebook. Details here. Clearly, they are specifically targeting younger consumers in the back-to-school season. 

The second is the upmarket Juicy Couture, which has started Club Couture, where users can check out looks from other Couture consumers and create their own. 
Which got me thinking: if every brand and their brother starts creating a social network just to jump on the bandwagon, will the concept lose its novelty? Or is it here to stay? I suspect it’s a fad. As one-off initiatives, they’re great, but how long they will be able to sustain the tempo is highly questionable.
In other news, I finally got the Mad Men Season One DVD set. I finished Disc 1 of 3 yesterday and I can say I like it. I’ll get into more detail at a later date, when I’ve finished watching the whole lot. Meanwhile, take a look at this graphic artwork based on the series. Love it. 
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