Mad Men kitsch, real-estate glitch, Passover product pitch

by April 10, 2014

We’re amid one of those stimulating times of year when the seasonal news pegs are so numerous it’s hard to keep up.  I missed National Love Your Produce Manager Day and going to have to take a pass on National Garlic Day; hoping to squeeze in some Earth Day ideas but meanwhile here are a few quicktips on upcoming stories you just might want to spin into local biz features:

Mad Men. The beginning of the end of the popular retro soap kicks off Sunday, April 13 as the first half of the oddly birfurcated final season begins; hard to believe that seven years have gone by since Don & Betty Draper and their swingin’ 60s circle created such a martini-fueled stir.

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Roger Sterling (John Slattery) in Episode 6 Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/AMC

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Roger Sterling (John Slattery) in Episode 6 Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/AMC

The show’s aesthetic launched calendars, cocktail recipes, a Banana Republic fashion line, fan books and more.  Now some of those items have become collectibles – and the very name of the show now is appended as a keyword to unrelated products on sites like eBay and Etsy to convey a certain vibe, much like the Shabby Chic trademark phrase was co-opted by sellers of other vintage goods.

Newsday got a neat little feature out of “Where to find Mad Men fashion and décor on Long Island.”  You could do the same and perhaps delve a little more into the supply and demand of vintage and retro-style goods.  Talk with bartenders, liquor store operators, e-cigarette and smoke shops and more about how consumers get into emulating the dressier era of decades gone by.  And here’s a just-published Upstart Business Journal piece about “How Mad Men inspired an architecture student to start a fashion firm.”

If you want to tackle something a bit meatier, how about a sit-down with your region’s marketing and advertising gurus; how has the industry changed in the past few decades?  Is copywriting still in demand or would Peggy Olson be mastering search-engine optimization skills and the new business of targeted Twitter ads – what are the skill sets aspiring gurus should be mastering and how has the billing/business model changed in the past decade for advertising agencies?

Passover. The Jewish observance runs March 15-22 this year and commemorates, as Chabad.org explains, the emancipation of Israelites.  Although a period with very solemn origins, its traditions have not escaped the attention of the same marketeers who have co-opted other religious observances; this year for some reason seems particularly ripe with products capitalizing on Passover’s prohibition on leavened goods and many grains and legumes.

That includes high-fructose corn syrup, one reason why Coca-Cola and other drink makers produce a special sweetened-with-sugar version for Passover consumption; it’s turned out tobe a hot item with Coke fans of many heritages.  Now Ad Age reports that packaged food makers are producing kosher versions of cake mixes, potato pancake batters and other goods that individuals on gluten-free diets are snapping off store shelves.  Why not talk with grocers and with people on restricted diets about the growing availability of and appeal of Passover foods for Jews and non-Jews alike?

Real estate RIP. Tired of perky real-estate stories about sellers wooing buyers with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and neutral wall paint?  How about a site that lets easily creeped-out would-be owners check on the dark side of the houses they like? DiedInHouse.com is a for-pay search engine that lets property seekers (or sellers, I suppose) plug in an address and find out who’s on public record as having died there.  It would be interesting to run the report for a number of current listings or recent sales and talk with the parties about how a ghoulish event or even an ordinary death might affect the transaction.

On a more serious note, disclosure notice requirements vary from state to state; some really do mandate that deaths (violent ones, anyway, or crimes) be disclosed to potential purchases.  Why not a story on the local legal requirements, along with tips for making the best of your home’s image problems (known as “stigmatized property in the trade) and otherwise checkered past?