Jaguar USA: A Strategic Response to a Fictional Crisis

A few months ago I decided to jump on the Mad Men bandwagon to see what all the fuss was about. Two episodes in, I was hooked, and the show became a quick favorite of mine. I would like to attribute this to its obvious parallel to my favorite industry, but I will reluctantly admit that Don Draper may have a teensy bit of responsibility for keeping me around.

While I cannot help my interest in the show’s handsome men of the 1920’s, the actors are not the only aspect of intrigue. I am always interested to watch Mad Men’s incorporation of real-world clients into the not-always-flattering plotline of the story. What is even more interesting is to see how these real-world clients handle the fictional, yet mega, PR they recieve from the show– the good, the bad and the ugly.

Mad Men’s most recent plotline victim was Jaguar USA, a car company the show’s firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Price, wanted as a client. The storyline was going smoothly enough for Jaguar, when all came to a screeting halt in the May 27 episdoe. The car company’s fictional boss demanded and evening with one of SCDP’s employees, Joan Harris, in exchange for their business. This incredible plot turn overshadows the additional negative remakrs in the episode, such as Draper’s referral to Jaguar cars as “unreliable.”

In our world of progressive social media, immediate action is no longer simply an option, but an expected response, so Jaguar quickly sent the following tweet:

“Loved the pitch, didn’t love the process. We applaud Peggy leaving SCDP.”

According to a PR News article, David Pryor, VP of brand development for JaguarUSA, later released the following response to AdAge.com:

“I’m a big fan of the show and it was gratifying to see our brand portrayed. I would say we were fairly surprised at the turn of events. At the end of the day, though, we’re confident that people know it’s a fictional character.”

I must say, way to keep it classy Jaguar. While prompt responses remain necessary, knee-jerk reactions remain a foolish tactic. And hey, all coverage is good coverage, right?

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