Fans encouraged to make their own cartoon Mad Men

NEW YORK - Fans of the critically lauded 'Mad Men' are being encouraged to make their own 1960s-style admen cartoon characters in a digital campaign aimed at building anticipation for the third season, which debuts in the US next month.

AMC, the cable company behind the show, has launched the service, which enables users to create a cartoon-style representation or an avatar of how they might look if they were a character in the drama.

They can then use their avatar as their visual identity on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The cable company is no stranger to exploiting the power of the web and word-of-mouth to generate publicity. Earlier this year it endorsed moves by fans of the show to create Twitter versions of characters including Don Draper and Peggy Olson

For its latest initiative, which is sponsored by Eight O'Clock Coffee, AMC has produced a microsite, where visitors are encouraged to "MadMenYourself".

Once the microsite has loaded, users can select their sex, physical characteristics, clothing and accessories. They are then given the option to download a background for their avatar using a backdrop in keeping with the style of the show.

The on and offline buzz surrounding 'Mad Men' has been considerable. For example, the show featured on the front page of an edition of the Guardian Guide listings supplement. The piece highlighted the Twitter buzz around Don Draper and company.

Many of the main charaters have multiple characters including Draper's Twitter identity (@don_draper). Tweets are created by fans of the programme, a move that was given the green light by AMC.

In the UK, 'Mad Men' season two finished on BBC Four earlier this year. The second series, which jumped two years from season one was set in 1962 and had ad agency Sterling Cooper being bought by a British holding company.

'Mad Men' won the 2008 Emmy for outstanding drama series and the Golden Globe for best television series, drama, in 2008 and 2009.

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