Mixed Signals: Newsweek and "Mad Men" Unite

Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.

Mad Men fans rejoice: March is almost here. That’s when the Season 5 premiere airs. And it’s also when Newsweek magazine will revert to its 1960s design in honor of the show. Tina Brown, editor of Newsweek, explains:

“Newsweek was very much on the cultural forefront at the time of the show,” Ms. Brown said. “It covered the events that are so much of the background for the show’s drama — the burgeoning civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement, the Vietnam War. That was Newsweek’s cutting-edge beat and its flourishing journalistic subject. So it seemed like a wonderful marriage in a sense to take that and apply it to the magazine, to make the magazine an homage to the period.”

First, of all, I think Newsweek is smart to capitalize on the popularity of Mad Men. Many people will purchase this issue simply to see the creative advertisements and throwback content layouts.

Second, it breathes some excitement back into print, a medium that has become less appealing with the onset of social/online media forms.

Overall, this should prove profitable for Newsweek. What will be interesting to see is how well Newsweek can slide into the realm of entertainment. It’s not exactly known for its pop culture or entertainment presence. In the era of comedic news a la Jon Stewart, it may be that news outlets are seeking creative ways to provide news while keeping it professional.

So keep an eye out for the March 19 Newsweek issue. We’ll have to see how the 1960s design is updated to fit the 2012 offering.

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