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Inordinate Ordnance - Know when you are being sold to.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

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Written by Chris Carr

A little while ago, I was looking for a watch. Just a simple wristwatch to wear for special occasions or whenever I wanted to rebel against one of the myriad handy apps on my cell phone. More specifically, I wanted James Bond’s watch.

This came after a viewing of Skyfall last year and I noticed Bond wearing a particularly cool watch. Lo and behold, you could buy the same watch from OMEGA for a small portion of her majesty’s family jewels. 

I was duped. I wanted it because I thought it was cool. But this wasn’t a fluke. It was all very carefully designed, enacted and paid for.

OMEGA paid a lot of money to have Bond seen with the watch. In fact, this seems to be how modern movies are getting made. Man of Steel had their entire budget paid for—before even hitting theatres—by product placements within the film. Watch it again, the only building left standing is a Sears.

But the most egregious violation of this was during last Sunday’s Oscars. A photo taken by Bradley Cooper of a cornucopia of A-listers that seemingly “broke twitter” as Ellen would later exclaim to a sea of bored, pretty faces.

But did you know that this ad hoc and playful incident of was actually a $1.8 million ad paid for by Samsung. Did you even notice you were being sold something?

And we always are, every time we go see a major blockbuster, watch a reality show or drama series. Next time you watch House of Cards, actively notice the hundreds of iPhone screens, laptops--white with shining apples insignias--and iPad-totters. It’s so bad with House of Cards that they wrote into the script that Kevin Spacey’s character is a fan of the PlayStation console. I can stomach that the vice-president may be a stone-cold killer, but he plays Call of Duty? Even Spacey can’t sell that character trait.

But at the end of the day, is this a bad thing? It’s people making money in clever(ish) ways for their companies.

It seems to me that it’s all a underhanded ploy. A kind of sleight-of-hand meant to con you out of your money; to make already rich corporations richer. Bond’s watch is just a watch, but on another person it’s not so cool. When ad placements are used to this high of a degree, I wonder how much the companies have to say over the story being told.

Chances are, the chainsaw in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre won’t be a Black and Decker. It might look bad on the company. What I am saying is that if they dangle money over media-makers, how can they not dictate outcomes—usually, I assume, for the profit of their benefactors.

How long until we see, “This tsunami coverage was brought to you by British Petroleum.” And it doesn’t show the damage the company sponsoring the report has done because that might affect their fiscal sector.

These kinds of endorsements make me uncomfortable because of how comfortable we are with them. Be aware that companies have little care for the consumer, only the profits mined from them. So why would we want these same companies to dictate information?

 

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