'Mad Men' returns and small businesses capitalize

Megan Draper (Jessica Pare) and Don Draper (Jon Hamm) raise their glasses in Season 6 of 'Mad Men,' which premieres this Sunday.

Season 6 of AMC's "Mad Men" premieres this Sunday. Fans are no doubt eager to catch up with the exploits of Don, Peggy and Pete -- and businesses are eager to catch up with those fans.  

John Stires' bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, usually serves wine and beer. But for weddings and special events they do have liquor. And this Sunday, they're serving cocktails.

"We only do it for special occasions and Sunday nights for Mad Men is going to be one of them," Stires says. The promotion helps draws customers on a typically slow night, and Sunday sales during the show's run often more than double.

"We know that people are going to come because they know that we're going to have our TV's on, set to 'Mad Men,' " he says.  

Bars aren't the only businesses to piggyback on the popularity of "Mad Men." Banana Republic has a "Mad Men"-inspired clothing line, which helped boost its parent company's third quarter profits last year. But you don't see a clothing line inspired by "The Walking Dead." What is it about "Mad Men" that marketers love?

"It's very much transmitting an image or look that its very easy for brands to import themselves into," says Brent Vartan, who handles market strategy for advertising firm Deutsch. He says "Mad Men" taps into yearnings for glamour and a lifestyle of cocktail-swilling fun -- themes that appeal to sought-after younger consumers.

As Don Draper himself says, "Advertising's is based on one thing --- happiness."

About the author

Jason Slotkin is a reporter in Washington, D.C.

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