Marketing Mysteries, Mad Men Style

As a marketer, I kind of hate Mad Men. For those unfamiliar with the field, whenever you meet someone and tell them you’re in marketing, the response that you get now is, “Oh, like Mad Men?” No, not like Mad Men. Advertising, and even more specifically agency advertising is just a small part of the marketing world. However, as a fan of excellence in television programming and as someone who likes to have their finger on the pulse of pop culture (and of looking at Jon Hamm), I love Mad Men.

Last week-end’s episode featured Peggy having a small meltdown prior to a big, important pitch looking for violet candy that Don had given her. The implication is, in her mind, it’s a sort of good luck charm, as well as an indication of Don’s faith in her abilities. This violet candy was a big deal for Peggy.

I was intrigued, at the time, because I am not at all familiar with violet candy; it sounded weird. (And, does violet have a taste?)

Fast forward to this afternoon, when I was checking out at Wegmans, the Wegmans that I’ve been grocery shopping at for the past seven years. There, in the checkout lane which is usually filled with all the usual, familiar candy choices, was violet candy! From what I can tell from the brief glimpse when Peggy found hers, it is the same.

Coincidence or marketing genius?

So, question time. Is this a coincidence? Was I just in a different check-out aisle than normal and this aisle catered to those with “old-timey” tastes? Perhaps the violet candy has always been there and I’ve never noticed it, but did today because of the Mad Men connection? Or, is the Wegmans team even greater marketing magicians than I have given them credit for? What are the odds that they track pop culture and rearrange the availability/visibility of products as a result? Were these candies in the front, in a prime, eye-level, check-out aisle spot because one of the store’s merchandisers is a Mad Men fan? Did my purchase of the candy (which tastes like sugary soap and smells like flowers) validate their perception that product placement moves goods?

Do consumer brands that pay for product placement notify their distributors so that products can be placed more accessibly? That seems like an obvious part of a multi-channel promotion strategy, but I wonder how often that’s executed. I would think if this was deliberate, it’s just more obvious because it’s a more obscure product.

Any experts want to weigh in? Any guesses as to if this was intentional or not? Anyone ever tried violet candy?