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Posts Tagged ‘marketing b.s.’

A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell Just Like Geeks

March 16th, 2009 No comments

The Sci-Fi Channel, in a desperate attempt not to be labeled a geek destination, is changing its name. To SyFy.

Oh, well played, General Electric, well played.

Categories: Sci-Fi Tags: , ,

Untruth In Advertising

December 30th, 2008 No comments

If it happens twice a year, it’s not even penultimate.

Where are the pants? I was promised pants.

No, you are not.

Categories: Rant Tags: , ,

Crazy Daisy

October 5th, 2008 No comments

This political ad seems to be running every time I turn on the TV. It’s from Colleen Callahan, the Democratic candidate for Illinois’ 18th Congressional District.

And every time I see it, I want to say “Really? The ‘Daisy’ ad? You’re invoking perhaps the most infamous political commercial of all time to go after some schmoe who has about as much chance of starting a nuclear holocaust as I do of perfecting mind-over-matter?” I mean, I give her points for knowing her history, but surely there must be something more relevant to run on.

How To Make Ten Million Dollars In One Weekend (A Play In One Act)

July 28th, 2008 No comments

Setting: A movie studio executive’s office.

Executive #1: I’ve got an idea! Let’s make a feature film version of The X-Files!

Executive #2: The X-Files? Wasn’t that canceled?

Executive #3: Six years ago.

Executive #2: And hasn’t it been about nine years since anyone cared about it?

Executive #3: Yep.

Executive #2: Plus, didn’t we already make that movie?

Executive #1: Sure, but this one will be completely different!

Executives #2 and #3: How so?

Executive #1: Well, remember all that stuff about aliens?

Executive #2: You mean the central premise of the TV show and the first movie.

Executive #1: Yes. But, come on, everyone knows that “mythology” didn’t make any fucking sense in the end. And we want to make this flick accessible to a general audience.

Executive #3: The people who weren’t interested in The X-Files during its nine-year TV run.

Executive #1: Of course! Because nothing gets people to plunk down eight bucks for a movie ticket like a tie-in to a long-dead show that they never watched when it was free.

Executive #2: Hey, didn’t the series end on something of a cliffhanger?

Executive #3: I think that the aliens were going to destroy the world in 2012…or something. I lost track, or possibly fell asleep.

Executive #1: Erm…yes, but alien invasion films are expensive and shit.

Executive #2: Plus, that’s just so Spielberg.

Executive #1: Right, so we’re going to completely fail to follow up that dangling end of the world plot line and make one of those “monster of the week” episodes that the fans liked so much.

Executive #2: The fans that we’re not pitching this toward.

Executive #3: Oh, I remember those stories: the flukeman, the squeezy-guy, the killer cockroaches. Those were cool!

Executive #2: So, it’s gonna be about the flukeman?

Executive #1: No, no, nothing like that. Instead, we’ll make it more like one of the other episodes. You know, the ones that were pretty much like every generic horror film that’s come out in the last six years.

Executive #2: Umm…

Executive #1: Plus, we’ll market the film in such a vague manner that no one will have any idea what it’s about. Except that it features Mulder and Scully.

Executive #3: Those two characters that appeared in the TV show that the people we’re trying to attract didn’t watch.

Executive #1: Okay, I sense that you’re not really getting it. How about this? We end the film with Mulder and Scully…

Executive #2: The people that the summer movie audience doesn’t care about…

Executive #1: …and they wave at the camera!

Executive #3: Wait! Doesn’t that pretty much fly in the face of the show’s dark, pessimistic mien?

Executive #1: Mien? Isn’t that a pretentious word for a movie executive?

Executive #3: Sorry.

Executive #2: Getting back to that “waving” thing, wouldn’t it also be unbearably cheesy?

Executive #1: Yes…but…we’ll put Scully in a bikini!

Executives #2 and #3: Brilliant! We’re sold!

Executive #3: So, when should we release it?

Executive #1: I was thinking that the best time would be the weekend immediately after the premiere of The Dark Knight.

Executive #2: You mean, the summer’s most anticipated geek fest?

Executive #3: Starring America’s favorite recently-deceased actor in an acclaimed, head-turning performance?

Executive #1: That’s the one!

Executives #2 and #3: Genius!

End Scene.

Donald Trump Sure Has (Meat)Balls

April 7th, 2005 No comments

Right now, I’m watching The Apprentice on NBC, and have just witnessed a jaw-dropping example of product placement.

If you’re not familiar with the show, many of the tasks that Donald Trump’s would-be apprentices face are designed to feature one of the series’ sponsors, and the product in question is typically introduced to the consuming public in a commercial airing within the episode. This week has to do with creating a “tech-friendly” clothing line for American Eagle, but I’m more interested in last week’s challenge: creating and marketing a meatball pizza for Domino’s.

A funny thing happened during last week’s broadcast. Halfway into the show, rival chain Papa John’s ran its own ad, featuring its own meatball pizza. (While not a national spot, it aired in 64 television markets.) There was no doubt that it was designed to blunt the Domino’s promotion, as it took place in a Trump-like boardroom and asked whether anyone wanted to eat a pizza designed by an apprentice.

An even funnier thing happened this week. Trump had called both teams into his presence to announce the American Eagle challenge, but just before they left, he said something odd, and I quote:

“And speaking of last week’s task, here’s something you didn’t know. Both teams invented meatball pizza, but if you’d done your market research like Domino’s did, you would have discovered that customers don’t want meatball pizza. What they want is cheeseburger pizza. The Lesson: Always pay attention to your customer.”

I thought it was odd that The Apprentice spent all last week showing Domino’s customers buying and enjoying meatball pizza, yet this week went well out of its way to declare that no one would want such a meal. Why would the Donald go off on such an irrelevant tangent? On a hunch, I ran to our TiVo-Like-Device (TM) and rewound the video.

Sure enough, during the entire anti-meatball, non-sequitur rant, Donald Trump was never pictured on-screen. Instead, we saw reaction shots of the teams, and an insert of Carolyn standing next to a gesticulating arm which we are to presume was Trump’s. The whole speech had been dubbed into the scene after the fact.

And, you guessed it, the first ad in the next commercial pod was for a Domino’s cheeseburger pizza.

I Am An American Girl

February 8th, 2005 No comments

Haven’t had time for updates lately, due to a confluence of work-related activities. However, I did want to share this.

My wife’s best friend Gina has three kids whom we love very much, and whom consider us their “Aunt Vicky” and “Uncle Dave.” The middle child, Kelly, is a fan of the American Girl books and dolls, and we’ve bought her several Christmas and birthday presents from that product line.

Unfortunately, I once made the mistake of purchasing online, which means that I am now on their mailing list and therefore receive things like this on a regular basis:

They’re right. I’m not ready to be a teen girl.

Okay, maybe I do like my magazines boy-free. However, I take issue with the “too fast, too soon” comment. Hmm, perhaps I’m not an American Girl after all!

By the way, Vicky receives Lego catalogs for much the same reason, though in her case, she was buying presents for me.

Categories: General Tags: ,

This Post Brought To You By Mennen Speed Stick

November 4th, 2004 No comments

Last night, I was watching Smallville, a WB TV show about the adventures of Superman when he was a whiner. Among the commercials was one for a new Old Spice deodorant named “Red Zone.” I presume that it’s intended to be extreme deodorant, perhaps one to be used when the terrorist threat level is raised to “puree.”

I wouldn’t have paid much attention to it, if it wasn’t for a scene in which young Clark Kent goes to his high school’s locker room. See, in the current season of Smallville, Clark is the star quarterback on the football team. This is despite protests by Pa Kent, who felt that Clark would use his superpowers to unfair advantage. However, Clark convinced him (whined enough) and now Pa cheers from the sidelines, even though it’s absolutely clear that his boy is using his superpowers to unfair advantage.

Anyhow, back to the locker room. Clark retrieves his clothes, but what’s that in Superboy’s locker? Why, it’s Old Spice Red Zone! Right there in front of the camera! The Teen of Steel uses Old Spice! Wow!

It may be hard to imagine now, but there was a time when product logos weren’t plastered all over TV shows and movies. And honestly, it used to bug me when characters would drink a generic “Beer” or wash with “Soap.” It took me out of the drama for a moment, because we all know that real life comes with a thick overlay of corporate identification. People drink Coca-Cola, not “Soda Pop.”

That changed as “product placement” was discovered by movie studios and TV producers who realized that companies would pay big money to have Billy Crystal wipe his ass with Charmin on screen. And again, a limited amount of this didn’t bother me, because it added to the realism of the setting. Of course James Bond would drive a BMW!

But there have been outrageously obvious examples that I’ve found even more distracting than old-fashioned “Beer.” For me, the poster child of inappropriate product placement was in Superman III (hmmm, Superman again?), a 1983 movie in which the Man of Tomorrow battled Richard Pryor.

Midway through the film, computer genius Pryor was pretending to be a janitor for reasons which currently escape me. The janitor’s closet door swung wide open, and…a large Kentucky Fried Chicken* bag came into view. Hanging on the back of the door. Right in the dead center of the screen. At that moment, I could no longer care about Richard Pryor’s hijinks or whether Superman could possibly defeat such a fiendishly clever hacker. All I could think was, “What the hell is that bag doing there?”

This sort of thing has become more prevalent on television in recent years as station breaks become ever more cluttered, and viewers use a wide array of devices to avoid watching the commercials which are the primary reason for the existence of their favorite shows. Advertising agencies want their messages to be unavoidable, and even better, associated with characters that people love. A 30 second spot about a douche is one thing, but if that selfsame douche appears in Lorelai Gilmore’s medicine cabinet…

So, we return to Smallville, and an exceedingly lame episode in which the Kryptonian Kid is pitted against a villain named for one of the comic book Superman’s arch-nemeses, the all-powerful, 5th-dimensional imp Mr. Mxyzptlk. Except that here, “Mikhail” Mxyzptlk is a quasi-European with a bad accent who uses his limited mind-control abilities to bet on high school football games. Wha?

As Clark heads off to play the big game, we can hear the field announcer over the loudspeakers: “Today’s game is brought to you by Luthorcorp, S.T.A.R. Labs, Boy Scout Troop 762, and…”

“Don’t say it,” I thought. “Please don’t say it.”

“…Old Spice Red Zone!

Aaaagh. Okay, we fucking get it. The citizens of Smallville use Red Zone to ward off the body odors caused by extensive exposure to Kryptonite. For the love of all that’s holy, why not just name the show The Old Spice Adventures of Superboy and be done with it?!?

Next week on Smallville, Lois Lane returns…with a mysterious candy bar! Wednesday at 8:00 pm on the WB!

*There was a time when KFC advertised that it fried its food.