Tuesday, April 8, 2008

And now, a word from our writers

Ah, remember when product placement attempted to be sneaky? I guess because consumers were somewhat uncomfortable with it—but those days are apparently over. I think it’s a result of both our celebrity/money-obsessed culture being increasingly okay with “selling out” and the proliferation of reality television, which provides limitless promotional opportunities.

It appears an entire MTV show was created to promote a new Doritos flavor—Spicy Sweet Chili. The channel and brand asked “spicy and sweet” girls and guys to create online profiles to compete for a chance to appear on When Spicy Meets Sweet, a new mini dating show, and star in their very own Doritos commercial. The series premieres April 18. Will these opposites attract to produce the same lip-smacking “sweet heat” found in every bite of our new favorite snack? I’m at the end of my bag—and the edge of my seat.

Speaking of true love, two weeks ago on The Bachelor, the English gentleman went on a one-on-one date with Holly to a “red carpet” premiere of Made of Honor, the new Patrick Dempsey movie. Of course they both gushed about what a great movie it was to watch on a romantic date…but I guess it wasn’t romantic enough because she got booted last night. Ouch.

It was deja vu tonight on Beauty and the Geek. Brittany Snow book-ended commercial breaks with prom tips for viewers, complemented by clips from her new movie Prom Night, of course. The challenge posed to the beauty and geek teams was to script and act out a prom-themed scene on the set of The Young and the Restless (a two-for-one promotional challenge!), before which they watched a clip of Prom Night, of course commenting on how they all can’t wait to see it. And surprise! The winners of the challenge will get to go to the movie premiere.

Now, I don’t think I really have a problem with the product placement—I mean it’s not like reality television has any artistic merit that’s being compromised—but this just seems like lazy marketing. Could it be any more obtuse?

Compare the marketing of Made of Honor and Prom Night to that of Getting Over Sarah Marshall, for example. I heart those outdoor advertisements—“You DO look fat in those jeans Sarah Marshall,” “My mom ALWAYS hated you Sarah Marshall,” “I’m SO over you Sarah Marshall.” Hilarious. I kept seeing them on billboards and cabs, and I almost thought they were real. And you better believe I googled “I hate Sarah Marshall” and found the heartbroken character’s blog, complete with numerous text and video entries, which I also almost believed. Is the dude from How I Met Your Mother really psychotically obsessed with his ex? (Okay, I admit I had to ask my boss about it the next day to find out it was just a movie promotion. I’m extremely gullible.)

But what creative marketing! I’m definitely more apt to go see Forgetting Sarah Marshall than Made of Honor—guessing the products will befit their promotional vehicles, with Forgetting Sarah Marshall more likely to be a hilarious, somewhat inappropriate comedy (like the blog) and Made of Honor more likely to be a cheesy romantic comedy (possibly inducing the same gag reflex experienced while watching Bachelor dates). Actually, who am I kidding—I’m sure I’ll see both—but I’ll probably spring for the $11 ticket to the former and Netflix the latter. (Oh McDreamy, even if Loverboy had been a two-hour Pizza Hut commercial, I still would have ordered extra anchovies.) Prom Night, however, I’ll probably skip.


Zipporah said...

MTV also has Alicia Keyes starring in little deoderant commercials during The Hills. Something about fresh or some crap. It's ALMOST like a TV show, but not. I also like those Sarah Marshall ads. I, too, went to the site. I think it's just laziness out there. I will reward Sarah Marshall for taking the extra time to create something clever by actually going to the movie.

Abby said...

Take a look at the Real World. I was watching the awards show (yes, I'm lame) and the clips from old seasons have soda cans and other promotional items blurred to hide the names. On newer seasons, the camera is careful to be at a good angle when a cast member opens the fridge in order to catch the case of Gatorade sitting inside. Networks found a way to make some extra cash and they jumped on it.

BTW, aren't you supposed to be packing, not updating your blog?

Amy said...

Dammit-- you caught me. And right now I'm commenting on my own blog instead of packing...

Very perceptive Real World watching. I think I remember blatant promotion of Sidekick phones on Real World Road Rules Challenges too.

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