Conclusion

The Hypothesis that is analysed in this work, is the following:

As the series Mad Men is a high quality series – full of external references and with a great range of complex characters and an unfolding storyline – the project gives much space and engages the VUP even more to interact and contribute voluntary different, creative media content to extend the transmedia storyworld.

The high quality series of the series is particularly proved in chapter 5. Narrative/gaming elements and chapter 10. Aesthetics. It offers the VUP to expand his media literacy, especially if the whole range of transmedia extensions is viewed, used or played or even more if the fan fiction is created. Remarkable is also that critiques praise the project „Mad Men“ for its educational potential.

In general, significance can be seen on the merchandising products, which mostly represent the flair of the 1960ies and conveyed in the today‘s world, in the real world. Through the immersion, the VUP experiences these items, he can dive into the sixties, but perform his identity at the same time.

But what could be improved? Separate, simple flash-games are already integrated, the whole Mad Men, a kind of Augmented Reality Game could follow. The VUP would have to solve tasks until he or she see the next episode. As Mad Men is a Television Series, it is probably not lucrative to combine online distribution of unseen episodes and broadcasting the episodes later. At least the experience could be improved through Long calls „Interactive Storytelling“. This is a sort of digital notebook that keeps track of the episodes, which are already watched and the ones which are not yet consumed and might have a possible restriction of availability of new chapters until previous chapters have been consumed.

Especially, for the period, when the fans are waiting for the next episodes/seasons, he or she should be kept interested and curious. So, that extensions like webisode or mobisodes with content for lesser-tier characters might be produced.

Even if not from producer‘s intention provided, like in the Twitter case, the storyworld encourages the fan. The Twitter-case leads to the conclusion that AMC apparently missed out the opportunity to collaborate with the fans and to increase the engagement of fans through even richer content and the option to perform and interact with and influence the official story. The storyworld of Mad Men invites the to explore the historic world in an active way, rather than in passive consumption.

The conclusion is easy, we just need „an increasing acceptance and recognition of the audience as not merely recipients of a story, but as co-creators in their own right.“

Structure

Structure of the MADstoryword.

The whole project began with the premiere of the first season of the series in July 2007, and it completed its fourth season in October 2010. The producer planned a series more as a transmedia project. Over time, more and more media and platforms were added (see Fig. 5). Consequently, it can be described as a retro-active transmedia project. Meanwhile, the series remains the main focal point for the VUP. All media and platforms refer in some way to the series or are entangled with it. Like the fictional autobiography of Roger Sterling, published during the forth season. Beside the series, the merchandise, e.G. the nail polish or the clothing line can stand alone. In contrast to the games, they are diverting and do not engage a big immersion and could not stand alone or function as an entry point in the story.

While the website offers all links and official content in one place, the autonomous fan has to find out on his or her own, where the extension from Fan Fiction, contributed to this project, can be found. To increase the possible immersion the VUP can get through consuming or interacting in the Fan Fiction, the user generated content should be better connected with the official content. Especially to close the gaps that evolve during the pauses in between the seasons.

Characters

Mad Men has a wide collection of distinct character types. The main cast is limited to six characters, who mostly undergo a character development during the four broadcasted seasons. Although the trailer, which is shown in the beginning of each episode shows a man in danger, while falling from a skyscraper, the extend of most possible dramatic fall in the series is not higher than being humiliated, losing a job and getting divorced.

The last mentioned misadventure happens to the charming and successful womanizer Don Draper during the second and third season. He is in the focus of the series and step by step his past is revealed due to different coincidences. He tries keeps the secret of his own past and identity hidden. But, not even after four seasons the mystery is cleared up. This leaves still space for curiosity and requests negative capability from the VUP as well as from the narrative.

While he is a caring father, simultaneously, he shows philandering behavior towards his wife / ex-wife Betty Draper and as well to his affairs. She is the mother of Dons three children, Sally, Bobby and Gene. In the series she is a typical 60ies housewife, who used to be a professional model in her past. While she seems to be the perfect blonde beauty, her emotional immature character comes to light.

Towards this, the development of the character Peggy Wilson goes in an opposed direction. From the naive girl, who worked as Dons secretary in the beginning, she works her‘s way up. Later she is a copy writer, whom Don trust and whom Don sees equivalent.

Pete Campell, an ambitious young accountant whose father-in-law is a Sterling Cooper account. Later he is the founding partner of the new agency of Don and Roger Sterling. He and Joan Harris, the office manager in the old and new agency had an affair and a difficult relation since then.

Overall, the characters are well shaded, sometimes inconsequent, sometimes merciless and sometimes guided by their emotions and authentic. The topics that are covered in the four seasons are professional rivalries, personal relationships, extramarital affairs, and conflicts of the main characters. They are rolled out into various storylines, while the perspective expands during the four seasons from Don Draper and his team to other people.

The media and platforms, beside the series, adapt the character as traits they are shown on television. While the official media hardly develop the dramatic story on other platforms. The specific characters are presented in a portrait on the website and extracted scenes from the current episodes are shown. But, the characters evolved beyond ordinary constraints of the television format and be experienced in interaction on Twitter.

PoV and Engagement

In the series, the perspective from which the story is told can be defined as an omniscient third person Point of View. As the viewer sees and knows about the affairs from each one of the married couple Betty and Don Draper (during the first season), although both still manage to keep the truth from each other. While the feelings and thought are not verbalized, the camera gives an insight in the characters world of feelings through a special techniques. Instead of rushing to the next scene, the camera stays for several seconds, after the actual action has been completed and the viewer can focus on the reaction of the character on his gestures and mimic. Only, the Don‘s flashbacks to his childhood constitute an exception.

In contrast to the PoV of the series, the interactive platforms offer an insight in the character from the first person Point of View.

From the producers intention role of the VUP can be interactive, as long as the VUP stays on the Mad Men-website, consumes the merchandise or watches the series Mad Men. Interaction or gaming with other VUPs on the Mad Men website could be extended. To heighten the interaction level the „MADdict“ got active independently and satisfied his need to perform through Twitter, Wikis, Blogs and a wide range of Mash-up videos, so that the interaction level in general around Mad Men got high. The Twitter Case can be seen as cultural activator

and the reasons for the meaningful form of participation where beyond a deeper interest in the narrative. With the manifesto: „We are Sterling Cooper“ on a website, the Fans proclaim their own right to produce content. The project works as well as cultural attractors, as e.g. many Wikis for Mad Men are maintained by fans.

Worldbuilding and Extensions

The transmedia project Mad Men recreates the fictional, alternative and historic world of advertising agencies, bars of New York on the fifth Avenue and in contrast to that the idyllic world of the suburb in the 1960ies. It depicts the social mores and changing moods in the United States of America at at that time. The series and some extensions like the Job Interview game and the Which Mad Men are you? Game deal with morality and the question which course of action will the character take/which course would I take now/what is ethical correct and how much influence have other people on my decision? The games contribute to the identification of the VUP with the character, increases the involvement and might initialize reflection on moral and behavior nowadays. This gives the project a high level of Drillability, as the encouragement for fans to dip deeper into the storyworld is increased.

But not only the fictional world of the series of the 1960ies is build up. A nostalgia arises around the non-fictional „behind-the-scenes and building-up-the 1960ies“-world. For example on the website, as the stylist for the cast of Mad Men is interviewed for the Fashion Flipbook and tells, how she finagles the outfits and explains the reason, why she chooses which specific outfit. Further there is the photo-contest of Banana Republic

, which prompted the fans to get in similar wardrobe like their favorite characters and to recreate the ambient of the 1960ies.

This non-fictional „behind-the-scenes and building-up-the 1960ies“-world becomes apparent as well with the making of documentary and on the website as it gives extra information to the actors of the main characters, original scripts and  storyboards. These special information might be especially interesting for the part of the target audience, the media representatives in particular.

It seems that in the case of the project Mad Men, the extensions of the official and the unofficial (mostly) fan-contributed elements fit perfectly with Jenkins concept, „where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.“

It seems that many of the nuanced characters in Mad Men and almost every shown part of the shown culture in Mad Men demands for an extension. The writer of the series Weiner itself claims “The story is told in the details, and those details have their own life”. So, that  a wide range of extensions are conceivable like a “create-your-own-ad-campaign” contests, “create-your-own-advertising-agency” or ARGs sponsored by liquor companies.

 

Narrative

Set in the 1960s, the project Mad Men mainly deals with gender issues, racial bias,  sexual dynamics in the workplace and the prevalence of smoking and drinking. The series takes action on the Madison Avenue in New York City in the fictional advertising agency Sterling Cooper and later Sterling Cooper Pryce. This is the workplace of the anti hero of the series and focal character Don. In the first seasons, he is creative director and later founding partner of the new Agency Sterling Cooper Pryce. His working place is already a high contrast to the supposed to be idyllic suburban home. But, the change of his job comes along with the divorce from his wife Betty, after that a hard time for Don is depicted.

Beside the series, the other media and platforms barely refer to the dramatic part of the story with its intricate plotlines. As the story in the series is told linear (besides the flashbacks to Don‘s past) and the setting does not change that much in the fictional four years of the four seasons, the transmedia project features coherence and its extensions are kept canonically. Continuity can be also seen in the different characters and their traits, which can be experienced in different flash games or in following the fan-authored Twitter-account. So that it can be concluded, that he narrative on the different media platforms, if fictional or non-fictional, if made on the producers intent or generated by the fan community, involves a high level of continuity.

On the one hand the games, which the official website offers, are to a minor degree interactive or multimedia and do not offer difficulty level. On the other hand, they are closely related to the other distributed content of Mad Men. The Trivia Quiz refers to the migratory clues of the series, which cover events of the current affairs of the United States of America in the 1960ies. The events like the election of John F. Kennedy, the Cuba crisis or the death of Marilyn Monroe are brought up and stay uncommented and unexplained in the series. During the Trivia Quiz the VUP can refresh his general knowledge through research in the internet or just bye reading the given answer. Only in this game and in the iPhone App Mad Men Cocktail Culture the concept of winning or losing is implemented.

In the connected arrangement of the different media in the Mad Men-project, the blogger Cohen sees the value of transmedia storytelling for the VUP. „Part of Mad Men’s success can be attributed to how this content has helped the show make a cultural impact beyond its time slot. It’s not a fluke; it’s a phenomenon known as transmedia storytelling.“

 

Social Media

Since the emerging of Social Media, the line between consumer and producer of any kind of content in the internet became blurry, „prosumer” turned into a buzzword and signifies the chance of the consument to get active and produce his or her own content. Ever since, the professional content producer have to pose the question as Rose did “What happens when viewers start seizing bits of the story and telling it themselves?”

Vasile goes in her blogpost Mad Men: fan-fiction on Twitter further and asks if there is „a danger for the narrative universe or is [this development] just an opportunity to increase the audience’s engagement?“

Concerning these questions, a discussion about Mad Men-Accounts on Twitter came up. The background was, that after the second season was broadcasted, fans brought their favorite Mad Men-characters to life and tweeted for a few month under their identity. According to Jenkins, @Peggy_Olson, @BettyDraper, @Don_Draper or @Bud_Melman, just to mention a few, „never made any interpretation mistake and followed religiously the series’ story”. But soon, AMC asked Twitter to reveal the identity of the people behind these accounts. AMC interpreted The creation of the accounts as a copyright violation of the AMC owned Mad Men brand. As AMC had canceled the suspension demand for „fake Twitter“-accounts, the fans made the manifesto: „We are Sterling Cooper“ on a website and kept on tweeting as the characters they created and developed.

Finally, some characters like Helen Ross Klein, who was the voice behind @BettyDraper at the StoryWorld Conference, revealed her identity:

„I also know I made a handful of people a little unhappy in that I didn’t reveal it was me from the start, or at least that it was a fan behind it and not AMC. But that would have ruined what I set out to discover first, so I stayed to having the account point to the show’s site and never revealing my true identity until now.“

Apparently, the combination of Social Media and Mad Men adds value to the whole project and has a remarkable significance. As in 2009, Jenkins mentions the Mad Men Twitter-accounts as the archetypical „contemporary convergence culture“

. The reason he sees this phenomena especially in Mad Men is, that the content is of such good quality that other fans could not decide, if it was made by producer’s initiative or a fan fiction universe/network.

In this example the character @bettydrapper accuses her daughter, for hiding her unbeloved sweet potatoes at the dinner table. This reproach refers to a scene in the series in season four, when Sally Draper claims protestingly she does not like potatoes at the thanksgiving dinner with the family of her stepfather.

Fig 3: Screenshot: Twitter.com

Tweets embody fan fiction in its minimized form and let the fan slip into the heads, inhabits and bodies of the characters and act from their perspective.

This reveals multiplicity for the project as the engagement of the fans to tell the story from their own way is very high. And, the new offered perspective and insights in the characters are popular as e.g. @bettydraper has in December 2011 31.706 followers.

Further user generated content obtains a big range of fan-videos on Youtube. Among these are parodies of Mad Men with characters from the Sesame Street or the Simpsons. Some mash up videos, consist of original visuals with an audio overlay like songs or dubbed character voices. For other user generated videos VUPs search and extract different scenes, which show the characters only smoking or drinking and merge these scenes to a video clip. Beside the main character, Don Draper, numerous mash-up videos of the character and the role of Betty Draper can be found on Youtube as well. These highlighten her different character traits and show her as „Ugly Betty“, the cruel mother, or Betty Draper in „Stand still, look pretty“, as woman, who has to suffer the men and stucks in her gender role.

Along with that, various fan blogs of Mad Men cover just as many different aspects as the series offers. Considerable is the blog „Basket of kisses“, whose authors Roberta Lipp and Deborah Lipp wrote for every Mad Men episode retrospectively the script down and offer under „Mad News“, the latest news about the fictional and non-fictional world of Mad Men. But their engagement goes even further, as they collect citations from every episode and list the migratory clues

and external references of all kinds, enroll them under the category „Bible“ and clear them up through references to other websites or simple explanations. Mad Men is full of cultural references. E.g. on the „Basket of kisses“-Blog for the first episode in season 4, the authors collected twelve migratory clues and listed them. In their motivation to find even more, they „’re counting on you to contribute. Anything we missed, anything you can think of.“

The project Mad Men functions in this case as cultural attractor, the, from migratory clues evolving, project worked as cultural activator. The wide range of user generated content and the high quality of the produced  content certifies the project Mad Men a high level of spreadability for its ability to be extended on many different platformsand drillability for the possibility to discover its complexity, intertextual and cultural references and to dive deeper in each media.