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Banana Republic Goes Mad for Mad Men Again

Posted by Barry Silverstein on June 23, 2011 12:00 PM

For clothing retailers, an idea that can be extended is worth its weight in gold. That, apparently, is what Banana Republic thinks of the AMC hit television series Mad Men.

Last summer, Banana Republic leveraged the popularity of the series about the advertising industry of the 1960s into a mini-Mad Men campaign with select specially designed products featured in a Mad About Style guidebook, along with sponsoring a "Mad Men Casting Call" contest that offered winners an opportunity to appear in the actual show.

Simon Kneen, Creative Director and EVP of Design for Banana Republic, wrote in the guidebook, "What makes this collaboration so brilliant is the common thread between us. We're both mad about style. Banana Republic is defined by a style of dressing; Mad Men by an era of style."

This summer, Banana Republic hopes to repeat the attention it garnered previously by launching a capsule collection of men's and women's suits, dresses, skirts, coats, blouses, sweaters, ties, and hats that will be co-branded with the Banana Republic and Mad Men logos. While the fashion offerings pay homage to the 60s chic of the series, they also take into account contemporary tastes.

Banana Republic has run into a minor snag, however. The collection is scheduled to debut in August, when AMC was expected to premiere season five of the series, but protracted talent negotiations means Mad Men will not return until early 2012 (lead actor Jon Hamm only just reupped this week for three more seasons).

Jack Calhoun, president of Banana Republic, told the New York Times, "It's not that big of a deal. Mad Men continues to be relevant whether it's on the air or not." Janie Bryant, who won an Emmy for the show's costume design and is advising Banana Republic on its collection, added that fans "can get their fix with the clothing" until the show returns. In the meantime, seasons one to four are available on DVD.

Banana Republic is not the only one afflicted with Mad Menia. Last year, Barbie and Ken sported Mad Men outfits. Brooks Brothers offers a Mad Men-inspired suit. Nailtini created a Mad Men nail polish collection with Bryant's help. Bloomingdale's has featured a Mad Men window display.

But Banana Republic's collection appears to be the most extensive clothing tie-in to date, so it will be heavily promoted. Banana Republic will produce "Mad About Style" webisodes and share them on the brand's Facebook page, where a Mad Men teaser is already running. The collection will also be promoted on AMC's website, which features a fashion flipbook, as well as in print, outdoor, and online advertising, via direct mail, and in stores. Banana Republic and AMC plan to repeat the "Mad Men Casting Call" contest as well.

Has the whole world gone Mad? Tom Julian, president of brand consultancy the Tom Julian Group, told the Times, "At the consumer level, [Mad Men] still has a lot of legs. People know what you mean when you say 'the Mad Men look': a two-button, trim suit, a crisp shirt and a pocket square, the mod look of the '60s."

That look was detailed in a series of videos last year, featuring Bryant and Kneen talking about Mad Men style —

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