From Mad Men to HAPPYish

June 2, 2015

For eight years, there was nothing better than spending an hour each week in front of the TV with Don, Peggy and Joan. Yes, Mad Men. The series quickly became one of my favorites after just a few episodes. Whether it was the vintage clothes, 1960’s and 1970’s inspired sets or the great one-liners from Don (that’s why I pay you!), the show effortlessly captivated its mass audience at every turn.

With the show’s final episode airing last month, I was left wondering what new series could possibly fill the vast void left by the end of Mad Men. Enter HAPPYish. Like Mad Men, the series is set in an ad agency, but in the modern day. Thom Payne, the lead character, is a mid-40s creative director whose world is turned upside down when his new 25 year-old boss blows in to town to drive a new “social” direction for the agency. This leads Thom to question his “joy ceiling” and whether pursuing happiness is a fool’s errand.

One of my favorite parts of this dark comedy is how the creators bring brands to life within the context of the show. In six episodes, we’ve been treated to segments on Coke, the Wonderbra, Amazon, GEICO, Keebler, and New York Life, among others. The show’s main characters interact with several famous brand spokescharacters including the GEICO Gecko and the Keebler Elves. The show strips away the polished image of these characters and presents you with a rough and raw version that helps move the storyline forward in a NOT so perfect, real world.

For example, Thom is worried about saving the animated Keebler Elves from their untimely demise due to a change in creative strategy that dictates the use of real world actors. The segment quickly takes an outrageous turn with Ernie Keebler (head elf) perched in the Hollow Tree and wheeling a gun, and Thom taking a romp in the hay with Ma Keebler. Outrageously funny and shocking? Yes. Damaging to the brand? Maybe, maybe not.

In a time when companies are more fiercely protective of their brands than ever before, it’s risky to allow a third party to manipulate the image of a brand or icon. This is one of the key themes the show tackles throughout each episode – when is it time for a brand to flex its creative muscle and consider a change?

In my opinion, it was a risk worth taking and perfectly targeted at the show’s target audience – 30, 40 and 50-somethings who have grown up with these brands and appreciate the humor that comes with age. The brands featured on HAPPYish have taken a risk, pushed the envelope and evolved with their audience to breathe new life into trusted, household names.

Now, off to have a Coke and cookie.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Let's Work Together

Give us a holler, we'd love to connect.

Latest Tweet