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'Mad Men Yourself': AMC Learns A Lesson About Playing Well With Others

a cartoonish representation of a dark-haired woman with glasses and a cup of coffee.

hide captionMad Men Yourself allows you to create a personalized cartoon you, which can look however you'd like.

Created at MadMenYourself.com

If you've seen your Facebook or Twitter feed over the last week turn into a patchwork of little cartoon heads, you're probably experiencing the effects of Mad Men Yourself, an AMC-sponsored online application that creates a personal, Mad Men-ized version of you — or of what you wish you were. (I was honest enough to give myself coffee, anyway, as you can see.)

The site has been very successful; the icons it generates have been popping up all over social media. And it turns out that, to create this terrific online doodad, AMC turned to someone who was already making great Mad Men online doodads: an artist who goes by the name Dyna Moe and has been creating a beautiful set of drawings called Mad Men Illustrated for quite some time.

As she explained in a recent interview, Dyna didn't start out as some ordinary fan of the show; she knew a cast member and so wasn't a total stranger. Still, what she was doing wasn't authorized by anyone. But rather than send her the cease-and-desist she admits she half-expected, the show decided to adopt her and get her to work for them, and now they have one of the most clever and quickly adopted marketing tricks for a TV show that has gone by in quite some time.

It's particularly interesting to see AMC go down this road, because the network got itself into a dust-up about a year ago when it forced Twitter to suspend the accounts that fans had set up in the names of Mad Men characters. The network eventually backtracked, but it was a forehead-slappingly dumb example of alienating your best resource, which is your superfans.

It appears that between last summer and now, somebody has learned something about unauthorized riffs on your show that are done by people who love your show: before you send an attorney's letter ordering them to stop stepping on your toes, consider asking them to dance. They might say yes, and it will be more fun for everybody.

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