This year Christmas came early … at least in the Mad Men‘s world. I’ll continue with the product placement spotting in Mad Men, but I guess all episodes won’t be quite as brands-ful as it was the opening episode.

The second episode includes two notable placements: Polaroid and Pond’s cold cream.

Well, since I don’t like to reveal spoilers I’ll just have to mention that Polaroid had a role of a Christmas present.

Polaroid package in Mad Men (2010, AMC, screen capture)

The other placement had a much more interesting role. Pond’s cold cream was an account that was brought to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce by an ex-employee Freedie Rumsen. Pond’s cold cream is an old Unilever’s brand. And why is this piece of information important? Because Unilever stroke a deal with AMC, the cable channel that presents Mad Men, for a season-long sponsorship agreement. This agreement will include 6 specially prepared ads in the Mad Men mood and style for 6 Unilever’s products: Dove, Breyers, Hellmann’s, Klondike, Suave and Vaseline.

According to the article from NY Times each ad will take place at the imaginary 1964 agency named Smith Winter Mitchell. Each ad will feature two characters, a copywriter and an art director, trying to create an ad for each brand 46 years ago.

Charlie Collier, president and general manager at AMC in New York and the Unilever executives said for NY Times that the appearances of those Unilever brands during the episode were not part of the sponsorship deal. If that’s true, than this was a clever and a very creative move by Unilever’s media agency Mindshare.

This kind of creative advertising was also used during the Lost finale in May. Here’s an example of a Target ad that works extremely well during the Lost ad breaks, but could not generate so much effect elsewhere. You can see more examples of Target ads at Scott Bowen blog post Lost? Bullseye.

According to The Nielsen Company, nearly 90% of the national advertisements aired during the Lost finale achieved higher brand recall in the finale, compared to their average in other primetime programming on broadcast and major cable networks in the prior week. And more important, viewers particularly liked Target’s “smoke monster” ad, which had the strongest Net Likeability of any ad in the show – nearly quadrupling the average of all other spots in the telecast.

So, the future looks bright – not only the premium content, even the ad breaks will be interesting to watch. We’ll see …