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How Real-Life Ad Firm McCann Erickson Wins Twitter During 'Mad Men'

The real McCann meets evil TV McCann (hold the goatee).

Michael Yarish/AMC

There’s one shadowy “Mad Men” character who dominates the story arc of the entire series without having a single line.

If you’re familiar with the course of the AMC show’s seven seasons, the last of which airs next Sunday, you know that the real-life 113-year-old advertising agency McCann Erickson has lingered throughout as a sort of menacing villain, either competing with or threatening to absorb Sterling Cooper, the scrappy and fictitious ad agency that is the professional home of Don Draper.

“Mad Men” is lumbering toward one of the most anticipated conclusions in recent TV memory, and the real-life McCann has embraced its on-screen counterpart via its Twitter account.

As noted by AdWeek earlier this month, after a meeting where a group of McCann ad execs acted in a sexist manner toward Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks), the agency “apologized.”

It soon became clear that Sterling Cooper was about to be absorbed into McCann, with the facts made plain to the main characters in yet another awkward meeting. McCann’s Twitter account stated the obvious.

Then there was this, which refers to Joan’s exit from the previous episode.

And this when a McCann client, Coca-Cola, pops into the scene.

As AdWeek noted, Web mentions of McCann are up 46 percent since the show started airing again in early April. Someone smart at McCann has clearly decided to have a little fun with it while the moment lasts.

A similar thing happened last year when a plot point revolved around the installation of an IBM computer in the Sterling Cooper office. Over the next day or so, interest on Twitter spiked specifically around the IBM S/360 computer, which has its own compelling backstory. Before that, Heinz ketchup whiffed a chance at the same kind of engagement.

Other brands have been tied to some of the shows darker and uglier plot lines, and had to cope with that. Chocolate maker Hershey had a moment when Don Draper, experiencing a moment of personal catharsis, blurts out that he was raised in a Pennsylvania brothel during a meeting at which the agency is seeking to land Hershey’s business. The company embraced the moment internally, but not publicly. Carmaker Jaguar publicly disliked how the show used a fictitious exec in a plot line involving a sexual quid pro quo when Sterling Cooper sought to land its first car account.

So how will the real McCann react to the fictional McCann in the series finale? Anticipation

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