Each year, fall rolls in with a slew of new network TV series all vying for the highest ratings and a thumbs up for season two. This year, NBC and ABC have responded to Americans’ insatiable appetite for the 1960s, spurred by AMC’s critically acclaimed series Mad Men, with The Playboy Club (NBC) and Pan Am (ABC). Since both shows are set in 1963 and depict different forms of white, middle class rebellion against conforming to the 1960’s nuclear family and cold, corporate America (à la Revolutionary Road), we are given an interesting opportunity to compare each network’s PR efforts to capture the same niche audience carved out by Mad Men.
The Playboy Club, which premiered on September 19th, takes place in the Chicago Playboy Club when Playboy was still in its early stages as a company and follows the lives of company executives and “bunnies.” The show’s advertisements display attractive women dressed in bunny costumes and men dressed in suits through dim, smoky lighting, thus branding the show as glitzy, glamorous and sexually charged, as well as showing the more rebellious nature of The Playboy Club.
Pan Am premiered on September 25th and depicts the life of young airline stewardesses, a desirable job at the time due to the freedom it gave women from the conventional homemaker role. ABC is branding the show using bright blue hues and big band music, notably Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me,” in advertisements, thereby honing in on the optimism and innocence of an era before flying became synonymous with hours of security checks. I predict that Pan Am will ultimately have higher viewership than The Playboy Club because I think more Americans will relate to Pan Am’s optimistic, innocent view of the 1960s rather than The Playboy Club’s sexually charged, more rebellious take on the 1960s.
Pan Am’s upper hand is reflected in the shows’ online marketing efforts as well. Both shows’ websites features video interviews members of the cast, contests and links to social media (Pan Am has 9,408 Twitter followers and 195,035 Facebook likes; The Playboy Club has 6,569 Twitter followers and 123,592 Facebook likes). However, Pan Am’s online marketing efforts really get an edge over The Playboy Club with the link to Pan Am’s unique Pandora station, Pan Am Radio, and the “Discussion” page, which shows all comments about the show made on Twitter and Facebook without having to leaving the Pan Am website.
With both shows just starting to get into the season, the leader will soon emerge. Which show do you think will be more successful?
Elizabeth Townsend, Boston University ’12, Public Relations