If you are a fan of AMC’s Mad Men you may have taken notice to the retro style television ads now playing during the commercial breaks. In early August it was announced that AMC and Unilever had made a season-long sponsorship agreement that would include six commercials focusing on their products.

“The commercials are set at an ad agency named Smith Winter Mitchell, which like Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is a make-believe firm. The year is 1964, as it is in this season of ‘Mad Men,’ which began on July 25.”

Kathy O’Brien, vice president for marketing for Unilever’s personal care product, was quoted as saying the goal of the commercials was to “celebrate their heritage.”

I believe the genius in the ads are that visually, they capture my attention during DVR playback. O’Brien may call that “celebrating their heritage”, but I see it as a very smart visual disruption.

For a consumer that mostly watches TV in time-delay, the ads have tricked me multiple times into thinking I missed the start of the show after the commercial break. In that case I usually end up rewinding the DVR, and because of their retro appeal I have taken the time to watch them. Nifty trick.

I would really like to see more brands take advantage of the contextual adjacency provided to them. But unless you are a large brand that can make this type of deal with one network, you likely won’t see similar executions.

Here is the most recent spoof by Unilver for Suave.