Between Mark's chapter in Age of Conversation 2, his post on thinking by doing, and the image that is used to show the Ford F-150 commercial in the YouTube video below being stuck on the phrase, "IT'S ABOUT DOING THINGS," I've decided to admit to a "project" I undertook this summer and fall that was started for just that reason ...
So, ummm ... yeeeeeeah. You may have heard about, followed, or seen something regarding fans of Mad Men tweeting as characters from the show. Well, I'm the person responsible for the tweets of @don_draper, and thus kicking off that whole crazy adventure.
It basically started out as a research project of sorts for a thought I had about being able to extend a character from a TV show into social media in a real way and in doing so, having people connect to that character and the show in even more meaningful ways.
The goal was to just get enough evidence either way (to show that it was true or not true) and get out. Regardless of the outcome, I wanted to create a presentation on the experience and offer to turn over the account to AMC when I was done. But then the AMC shutdown happened, I made real connections with some of the people behind other characters, and it got a little too interesting to walk away from so quickly.
This whole thing turned out to be a lot more than I ever thought it would be (in more ways than one). What ultimately happened was completely unexpected and admittedly fun. I know I didn't do the best job at keeping Don going. To do so would have required far more hours in the day than I had available for it.
I also know I made a handful of people a little unhappy in that I didn't reveal it was me from the start, or at least that it was a fan behind it and not AMC. But that would have ruined what I set out to discover in the first place, so I stayed to having the account point to the show's site and never revealing my true identity until now.
That leads me to my next point ... I wanted to share it publicly since I will be soon handing the @don_draper account over to AMC indirectly. When I admitted to them that it was me behind Don's tweets just after the shutdown, I promised them that I would give it to them when I was done and that in the meantime, I would just continue as I had been – never wanting to harm the character or the show in any way.
Thought it was probably a good time to share this given the upcoming transfer of the account and so that anyone who was curious earlier in the year about it could now see who was behind it. I'm sure some will be glad that it's no longer going to be in my hands. Ha!
Anyway, more to come on this. I will be creating and sharing a recap of what I learned from it when I have a few spare minutes.
So wait, is AMC going to be using the account to tweet? Or is the account going to die? Or did I miss something? :)
Posted by: Chaviva | November 16, 2008 at 11:42 PM
Paul, thanks so much for instigating such a fun and brilliant experiment, this is a time of experimentation, this is all so new. You should connect with http://twitter.com/joshgreen who is a post doc at MIT and gave a great presentation at http://inverge.com which featured the early part of your experiment in his presentation. Cheers, Karl
Posted by: Karl Long | November 16, 2008 at 11:43 PM
AMC should be paying you for what you did. You effectively marketed their show the viral marketing way...via twitter. rock on.
Posted by: missmaro | November 16, 2008 at 11:46 PM
You're the man.
Posted by: Clay Parker Jones | November 16, 2008 at 11:48 PM
Chaviva - Thank you for your comment. I don't know what they're going to do with it. When I started this I said that I would always give them the first opportunity to have it if they wanted it when I was done with this. They do, so I am.
Karl - Thank you much for the scoop on Josh. Will certainly try to track down that preso or info and connect with him.
Missmaro - Ha. Thanks. I didn't ever do it for money. Just wanted to see what would happen.
Posted by: paul | November 16, 2008 at 11:49 PM
I agree. For such an advanced show, they should have thought about what you did, before you did it. Kudos to you, Paul, for getting fans involved. I hope they write you a check for it (though I doubt it).
Posted by: joeyTWOwheels | November 16, 2008 at 11:49 PM
C P J - Ha! 'tis true. Thanks.
Posted by: paul | November 16, 2008 at 11:49 PM
well done. i will now call you don paul, in your transition phase. (maybe you should have a site like change.gov for it. research of course.) i am also grateful that your halloween costume had a deeper meaning, and i fought my initial rxn to call you out as the guy's version of going as sarah palin.
Posted by: El Gaffney | November 16, 2008 at 11:49 PM
I thought the idea was brilliant. I had only vaguely heard of Mad Men when I started seeing twitter posts. I got curious anc clicked on them. I liked following the two Draper children. I tohught he time period references were spot on and hilarious, espcially about smoking. I thought the posts were backed by AMA at first since the website links were to the amc website. Bravo.
Posted by: Mom on the Run | November 16, 2008 at 11:52 PM
I am just glad you weren't Betty Draper, she's hot!!
Posted by: Craig Wilson | November 16, 2008 at 11:55 PM
joeyTWOwheels - Thanks for the note. No check needed. It was fun and I learned a ton which, like I said, I'll share sometime soon.
El Gaffney - Ha. Yes, the only reason for the costume came from this. Funny about it being the guy's Palin though.
Mom on the Run - Thank you. I think the people behind the other characters are likely to keep going on their own, so continue to enjoy them. They enjoy what they're doing, maybe even more than those who follow them.
Posted by: paul | November 16, 2008 at 11:59 PM
I love what you did it made twitter exciting and Mad Men even more exciting. So, who;s behind all the other characters then?
Posted by: The Aitch | November 17, 2008 at 12:07 AM
Well, I've never heard of you (I don't think so anyway), so i can't possibly be mad at your for not knowing you were @don_draper
Thanks for doing it though, it was fun!
Posted by: Alaia Williams/One Organized Life | November 17, 2008 at 12:25 AM
Thanks for doing what you did. I loved following you and the rest of the gang on Twitter and just getting a little bit more of my Mad Men fix. Good luck!
Posted by: DD | November 17, 2008 at 12:53 AM
Well, it was fun. I had Betram Cooper going pretty good, whoever he was. I'm a writer, Mr. Isakson, so talking 1962 was an exercise, very much so. I hope you will follow me on Twitter. As you mentioned in one of your replies, you learned from it, and when I write period pieces (usually Chicago circa 1959), it will be that much easier. So I kinda owe you one. Stop by my blog if you get bored. And stay well, my make-believe friend from a make-believe world on the ultimate reality show.
Posted by: Wayne Allen Sallee | November 17, 2008 at 12:54 AM
Really enjoyed your work here. And hope it helped spread the word about this excellent show.
I have to admit, it felt quite strange to be "followed" by characters on a show...but also made me feel connected in some odd way.
Posted by: Cynthia | November 17, 2008 at 12:55 AM
Nice move Paul. I like.
Posted by: Charles Frith | November 17, 2008 at 04:01 AM
Posted by: Adam | November 17, 2008 at 04:01 AM
Nice work :)
Posted by: Noah Brier | November 17, 2008 at 08:09 AM
And here I was, like so many others, giving Weiner and AMC credit for being a whole lot more on the ball than they apparently are! I have to say, I'm a little saddened by this revelation. As a former TV exec, it always makes me happy to see TVers actually understanding the new, and I thought your experiment was that. Hopefully they'll figure out how to continue--but now they have to step it up, which will be hard. Thanks for revealing yourself, and can't wait to read the ensuing diaog here and on Twitter...
Posted by: Paige | November 17, 2008 at 08:14 AM
I agree with other posters -- AMC should be thanking you. I assumed you worked for the show, and I find it a novel and fun way to market the show. (I adore the show, and I was quite impressed how you stayed in character.)
I think it really shows the power of twitter.
Posted by: Bloggingmom67 | November 17, 2008 at 08:14 AM
Posted by: Ryan Moede | November 17, 2008 at 08:20 AM
The mastermind reveals himself.
It will be interesting to see what AMC does with the account. Do you happen to know if they are taking over the rest of the Mad Men accounts on Twitter?
Posted by: Chris Wilson | November 17, 2008 at 08:37 AM
I'll be really interested in reading what you learned by tweeting as a character, not yourself or for your company as well as what you shared with the other folks who adopted personas from the show. It was really a unique phenomena in my experience, the way other people joined in with you on your project on their own, without any prior connection to you (I'm assuming).
It was the Twitter version of Primary Colors!
Posted by: Liz | November 17, 2008 at 09:28 AM
I think is was total genius on your part! Congrats on a job well done.
Posted by: Alison Lee | November 17, 2008 at 09:29 AM
I feel so dirty. You let me flirt with you!
Posted by: Whitney Hess | November 17, 2008 at 09:32 AM
you're a social media mastermind!
so when will the tell-all book come out detailing the conversations?
Posted by: Aki Spicer | November 17, 2008 at 10:02 AM
I love the Mad Men characters on twitter! You started what is going to be, if it isn't already, a new marketing trend for TV shows. Good job!
Posted by: cinnarose | November 17, 2008 at 10:02 AM
the BEHIND-THE-SCENES CONVERSATIONS, that is.
Posted by: Aki Spicer | November 17, 2008 at 10:03 AM
Thank you for showing brands and entertainment companies what is possible with Social Media. The engagement made me want to watch the show and be able to participate in the discussion. AMC should be paying for this. Well done.
Keep Digging for Worms!
Bill (Dr. William J. Ward) a.k.a. DR4WARD
Posted by: Bill (Dr. William J. Ward) a.k.a. DR4WARD | November 17, 2008 at 11:25 AM
Nice! I checked my Twitter account and it looks like 'you' were following me and vice versa. 'You' had 4,500 followers - not too shabby.
So this makes me wonder 2 things:
1) Are the other "Mad Men" characters on Twitter all doing what you did?
2) After knowing this, is there anyone else whose perception of AMC/"Mad Men" has not turned negative, but feels just as positively about the network and show as before?
Posted by: Courtney Kuehn | November 17, 2008 at 11:55 AM
Thanks, Paul. This is exactly the kind of experimentation that will be needed to drag some companies into the world of social media. It's for their own good (in the long run), especially when there is people like you (with good intentions) behind it!
Posted by: fromtherooftops | November 17, 2008 at 12:06 PM
Truly brilliant stuff
Posted by: Asi | November 17, 2008 at 12:13 PM
I spent an awful lot of energy speculating on what the whole Madmen Alternate Twitterverse was about.
I eventually met a few of your Sterling Cooper colleagues (a friend of mine joined up late in the game). But to the end, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, I always cynically guessed that AMC got the ball rolling in the first place.
Thanks for busting my cynical bubble and restoring my faith in non-commercial creativity (even though you say you were doing this for commercial research, methinks you actually enjoyed it).
Posted by: Christopher Fahey | November 17, 2008 at 12:45 PM
Paul, you are the reason I know what "Mad Men" is and watch it. Bravo! I'm so impressed. I just blogged about how I first heard about Mad Men on Twitter.
Posted by: Liz | November 17, 2008 at 01:03 PM
So... does this mean it's cool to hit on Betty Draper now?
Nicely done, buddy.
Posted by: Jason Oke | November 18, 2008 at 09:05 AM
you were one of my firsts...d'oh, that didn't come out right. what i meant was, you were one of my early followers. nice one, Paul.
Posted by: windo | November 18, 2008 at 09:25 AM
Oh My God!!! Brilliant move. Does this mean that AMC only started the rest of the characters on Twitter because they were inspired by you?
Posted by: Anjali | November 18, 2008 at 04:09 PM
Wow. I was just going to confess how I'm a whole season behind and that I just teared up at @don_draper's Kodak preso. The real bravo goes to you.
Posted by: Minjae | November 18, 2008 at 09:35 PM
Awesome, I almost feel as though AMC owe you some $$$
Posted by: pablo | November 19, 2008 at 03:53 AM
Excellent, concrete demo of how companies can Tweet. Can't help but wonder how much more effective you could be with insights into upcoming shows, linkages to broadcast campaign, etc.
Did you find people contributing insightful plot ideas? Suspect that if you'd had the ability to work ideas into shows, the feedback loop would be deafening.
Posted by: Michael Downs | November 20, 2008 at 01:41 PM
Brilliant concept, really well-executed. Just tweeted a link to your post. Your twitter model shld be packaged for every scripted program on network and cable. Talk about engaging and energizing a fan base!
Posted by: Lori Laurent Smith | November 22, 2008 at 10:10 AM
Brilliant, love the fact that it was you! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the whole experience now that its over when you get a chance!
Posted by: amelia | November 22, 2008 at 11:24 AM
You have created a whole new set of applications for programs to market themselves in the social media space. This was a stroke of genius. All shows should be emulating this. Can you imagine following reality show people on Twitter? Following the model wannabes from ANTM? Or the cast of Degrassi Twittering to each other and we are "listening in".
Kudos to you and thanks for the experiment!
Posted by: newmediaMike | November 22, 2008 at 01:40 PM
AMC should take a page from the Phoenix Suns, they have handled the Shaq Twitter thing like pro's
They have reached out to the Fan whom was posing as shaq, and brought him into the fold. The PR is all positive (after the initial twitter account shutdonw) and the suns + Shaq + the NBA + the fan, all come out smelling like roses.
Companies like AMC that dont "get" it are toast.
Posted by: joshua | November 22, 2008 at 02:19 PM
I loved this! Thank you for starting it. It makes my day to get @replies from any of the "cast members" even though I know they are just fans. Who is taking this over at AMC? You said "indirectly." ?
Posted by: Stephanie | December 12, 2008 at 04:05 PM
"It basically started out as a research project"
A Planner I periodically chat with from time-to-time once mentioned to me that, Experiments are good. ;)
Posted by: Marc Rapp | December 20, 2008 at 07:31 PM