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Newsweek’s keen 1965 “Mad Men” issue

Newsweek Mad Men Cover 2012

The new issue of Newsweek does something very creative. It’s obvious from the cover that there’s a “Mad Men” theme going on. The first clue that something else is amiss: The nameplate on the cover. It’s Newsweek’s 1960s-era logo. 

Flip it open and you’ll see the entire issue, under editor Tina Brown, has gone through a time warp. Stories are set in Newsweek’s 1960s fonts. And—best of all—many of the advertisements are designed to look vintage-1965.

Tina Brown Newsweek Mad Men Letter

The ads in the special issue were the brainchild of Creative Director Lance Jenson of Hill Holiday. Other agencies and in-house creative teams also stepped up with retro-themed ads that reference the “Mad Men” era.

Ads for Tide and Spam went all-out with 1960s psychedelic designs.

Two of the ads—Johnnie Walker and Smokey The Bear—are actual ads from the 1960s…

…but others, like this Lincoln ad, are very authentic recreations.

Other ads feel more like a modern writer’s attempt to force a 1960s copywriting style by throwing in a lot of words like “keen” and “humdinger.” It’s hard to get it right!

It’s amazing how at home the Geico Gecko feels in this setting. I think that’s a testament to the malleability of that character.

There are also some nods to how all-too-clever the whole concept is. This Allstate ad includes the line, “In 47 years, visit http://www.Allstate.com.”

I like what they’ve done here.

  • It’s a win for the advertisers, since people are more likely to pay attention to specially designed ads like this.
  • It’s a win for AMC and “Mad Men,” which earn more publicity for the season premiere on Sunday night.
  • It’s a win for Newsweek, which gets to reminds people of a decade when it was still a relevant journalism product.
  • It’s a win for ad agencies, which get to show off and ride the coattails of a popular show that glamorizes the ad business.
  • And lastly, I suppose it’s a win for Newsweek readers, who will enjoy a rare surprise-and-delight moment. Though I suspect many of them will be deeply confused.

It’s a gimmick, but kudos to the Newsweek editors for keeping it interesting.

Agencies that participated in the ads included Leo Burnett, Eric Mower and Associates, Hill Holiday, OMD, Brand Cottage, Mindshare, Merkley & Partners, Euro RSCG, PriceWeber, BBDO, Proximity Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi, Doe-Anderson, Strawberry Frog, plus in-house teams for Geico, Hush Puppies, Bloomingdales, British Airways and United Colors of Benetton.

If you want to see more ads and the agencies behind them, Ad Age has them all in a gallery.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Advertising, History, News & Journalism

One comment

  1. Meredith Harper says:

    Where can I get a hard copy of the Mad Men Newsweek issue? I have check stores in my city and cannot find it. Is this an online-only issue?

    Thank you,
    Meredith Harper

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