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Television Media

Would Fonzie Sell You A Lexus? 181

Faux_Pseudo writes: "In an attempt to flood your field of vison with more advertising the NY Times (free reg)has an article on how "digital technology may be used for the first time to place "virtual" products in scenes of a syndicated television series." If you were taken aback by The Duke selling Coors beer you might want to unplug the TV now." This sort of digital manipulation isn't totally new, but it seems like what we've seen so far is just the tip of the reality-distortion iceberg. As xueexueg puts it, "With any luck we'll see Capt. Janeway ask the food replicator for a meal, and a personal pan pizza will materialize."
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Would Fonzie Sell You A Lexus?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I don't know how anyone else feels, but I am particularly offended by those Alcatel commercials "featuring" Martin Luther King and Lou Gerhig.
  • ...not for you. The business of a TV station is not to entertain viewers for free, but to sell viewers' time and attention to advertisers.

    If you don't want to be a product, turn off the TV, get off your geek ass, and go do something--ANYTHING. Take a look at whitedot.org [whitedot.org] sometime.

  • Fade to black, voice over, "Fuck you. I drive a Lexus." Think they'll go for it?

    I like it. But it would only make sense for their SUV model [fueleconomy.gov]. Take my 14 mpg and like it, bitch!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Isn't that what we're coming to? Endless copyright fights over the images of famous people? Wouldn't it be hysterical if all the movie houses started snapping up the copyrights to all famous people-- MGM gets the image of George Washington, Universal gets the Sta Puft Marshmallow Man, etc. Yeah. I'd have to laugh.

    Don't laugh. There's an organization in Indianapolis called CMG Worldwide, whose main business is buying up the rights to use the names and likenesses of dead celebrities. Their list of "clients" (that's what they call them!) include Duke Ellington, Frank Lloyd Wright, Glenn Miller, Buddy Holly, Mark Twain, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. Picture a web page that is copyrighted by CMG and "The Estate Of Mark Twain"; that's what you get when you go to the official web site of the famous author who died in 1910!. And among their latest news, CMG is proud to "welcome Frank Zappa as its newest client". There's something morbid about the way they phrase their business relationship with the dead.

    CMG's founder, Mark Roesler [markroesler.com], is credited on the website with having "establishing the rights of deceased personalities throughout the world and has been a pioneer in protecting intellectual property rights abroad".

    Go to their about CMG worldwide [cmgww.com] page, and see if that doesn't chill your blood. To me, at least, this smacks of avarice that's extreme even for vultures. Wish I could get a gig representing clients who don't argue about their contracts or how much of the pie they're getting, and whose names and likenesses could conceivably pay all my expenses if I could lobby Congress hard enough to keep them trademarked forever.

    I mean, come on. Even with the increasingly restrictive US copyright and trademark laws, Mark Twain should be in the public domain with his books. He's been dead for over 90 years, and his writings were in public domain before the latest extentions to the copyright laws a few years ago.

  • by Tony Shepps ( 333 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2001 @09:59AM (#203431) Homepage
    I'm offended.

    And I'm not going to stand for it. I'm going to write my congressman a letter. But I'll be taking an Amtrak train tonight to help a friend do some work on his house. I'll have to write the letter on my Palm Vx; it's portability and functionality are incredible. Of course, on the train I'll have plenty of tunes thanks to my Panasonic portable CD player with 40-second anti-skip technology! And I won't go hungry thanks to Snickers. Packed with peanuts, Snickers really satisfies.

    Once I get there, the chores will be quick work, thanks to my new Black and Decker cordless screwdriver, the PowerDriver(tm). It's powered by the VersaPak(tm) system, so if it runs out of juice I can just pop in the spare battery pack.

    Is this post your nightmare yet? I can keep going if you like!

  • Sounds like the story "Remake," by Connie Willis. The future of television is nothing more than endless digitally-created remakes of old movies with digitally-created actors based on famous names, like River Pheonix starring in Casablanca.

    Funny thing is, there were endless lawsuits about copyrights. In the story, no Fred Astaire movie could be broadcast because of copyright disputes over the image of Fred Astaire.

    Isn't that what we're coming to? Endless copyright fights over the images of famous people? Wouldn't it be hysterical if all the movie houses started snapping up the copyrights to all famous people-- MGM gets the image of George Washington, Universal gets the Sta Puft Marshmallow Man, etc.

    Yeah. I'd have to laugh.
  • Instead of getting the broadcaster or cable head end to replace an ad-image, that should be a capability of the the set top device or personal recorder. That way the you get personally targetted advertsing. And it doesnt just have to apply to an actor/actress holding a drink; you could apply it to names of shops (instead of LA shop names, you could replace it with your local neighborhood shop name [yet another form of advertising]). The ultimate would be to replace the actors/actresses on the show with ones you like - may be a little hard to get voices/accents to work properly. Personalization gone amuck... I tell you what.
  • What about companies that paid for their product to be placed in the show in the first place? If Budweiser paid good $$$ to have the main character hold a Bud Light, won't they sue when the re-run shows a Coors?
  • I needed a good reason to stop watching TV. This ought to do nicely. Too bad I won't've really gotten my money's worth out of the rabbit ears, though.

    (I really don't understand this compulsion to stick advertising everywhere - it can't possibly be improving life or the arts, and people seemed to generally get by fine without it for millenia. But I do know that I _hate_ advertising, and will consciously avoid it and filter it out no matter how good it is, how targeted towards me it is, whether or not it's actually useful for me, or if doing so harms someone. That it's advertising at all is enough to make me avoid it.)
  • I _am_ an artist. Believe me, you can get somethings for nothing too, at times. (though at that point people have to _want_ to participate for free)

    Anyway, you're wrong. TV could be paid for with subscription models (e.g. HBO, which wasn't running external ads the last time I saw it), taxes (e.g. the BBC), donations (e.g. PBS) and probably a number that I haven't thought of, off the top of my head.

    Besides which, there's no rule that requires that a TV show have such high production demands. Sure, it's great to see a miniseries on, for instance, the building of the pyramids wherein an actual, full-size pyramid is constructed with actual human labor over the course of years. But you can do a lot with less than that as well. Shakespeare had no sets, no lighting, no curtains and a handful of costumes and props.

    Given the great developments in technology within the last twenty years, good shows could probably be produced with lower costs than ever before.

    Sure, there'll still be a need to pay the core people well, but even just increasing the amount of material produced would be likely to make overall costs more approachable resulting in a lessened need for advertising. (if any was involved at all - again, it need not be)

    This is kind of why I like foreign movies a lot - true, you're unlikely to see the latest jillion dollar effects, but there's tons of them and many are quite good.
  • That would explain the cancellation of The Lone Gunmen [thelonegunmen.com]. After all they used LINUX (or at least Langley and Byers did. . . ). M$ obviously paid Fox to take 'em off the air. . .

    Um, yeah, or else the show just really sucked...

  • It's been happening for years in games... Ever see the Mountain Dew and Budweiser versions of the arcade game Tapper?
  • ...since it was announced [yahoo.com] today that Lexus are joining up with Tivo.

    Now, Tivo users will see an icon during Lexus commercials, encouraging them to view TV shows sponsored by Lexus.

    So when you're watching The Simpsons, you see an icon during the Lexus commercial, encouraging you to watch the Happy Days marathon, featuring Fonzie selling you Lexuses.

    I wanted to work in advertising, but my parents were married.


  • Protect consumers? How am I being injured if Captain Picard sips a Pepsi One instead of his standard Earl Grey? Yes, my sensibilities are offended, but are you really advocating a Department of Offended Sensibility?

    If you don't like what you see on TV, vote with your dollar. Turn the television off. Read a book. Or better yet, create your own ad-free art. Then, you'll be contributing to a real solution to the problem.

    Naw, what the hell am I suggesting? Why creatively solve the problem when we can sue?
  • the General Lee was a Dodge Challenger, and OnStar is a GM thing.

    I guess it won't be a Dodge much longer then, eh?

  • *ALL* big-time charities and non-profits exist to make big bucks for their board of directors. There ain't a big charity around that doesn't pay its directors into the six figures.

    For a charity with low administration costs and high payout to the people it's to serve, check out the Heifer project. They ship farmyard stock to villages, which then breed the stock as a renewable resource. Best charity I've found yet.

  • One company [pvi-inc.com] that does these ads also did the matrixy Eyevision [pvi-inc.com] for the Super Bowl and the virtual first down lines [pvi-inc.com] too.
  • That's almost more scary. In a sense, the blatant promotion was an artistic (if one can say that about an Adam Sandler movie) part of the movie - it was overdone because it was a parody of sports stars hawking merchandise on TV. You could argue that toning that down really changes the movie, in which case the original producers might have a problem with it.

    Not to mention that if Subway paid for product placement in the movie, they paid for that placement every time the movie was shown.

    On the other hand, maybe if advertisers realize that their ads in movies aren't permanent, they'll give up on the idea :)

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • Similar copyright wars occurred in Greg Bear's Slant, which perhaps coincidentally mentioned disputes over Fred Astaire IIRC. Of course, these celebrity likenesses could walk around and interact with passersby as holograms, but it's almost the same thing :)

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • That's funny, I thought MLK Jr. using "I Have a Dream" to hawk networking gear was possibly the least tasteful thing I've ever seen on TV (and I sat through Iran-Contra and parts of the impeachment, too). I don't really care what happens to the images of Astaire, Wayne, or Gehrig - they were entertainers to begin with, so in a sense they've already sold their souls. But Mr. King was a spiritual leader and (in the broader sense) a statesman. If you can (in a sense) put words in his mouth, then there really is nothing sacred.

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • I respectfully submit that if you thought that was off-topic, maybe you just didn't get it. See, the joke is that you can complain about the free market all you want (and many do, often for legitimate reasons) but in the end it consistently provides you with more value than any other economic system has done so far. Because in the end, we all like cheap orange juice.

    I guess I've just never seen "free-marketer" used in such a pejorative fashion before. For a moment there I thought I was in Russia of 30 years ago or China of 20 years ago.

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • Good point - imagine Mr. King exclaiming the praises of his Colt 45...*shudder* It could have been much worse.

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • Sorry, I was referring to Billy Dee Williams selling Colt 45 liquor :)

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • You're kidding - FedEx didn't have to pay for that? It was practically "Fedex: The Movie"...

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • * Sigh. *

    That would be Weezer. They just came out with a new album [cdnow.com]. It is quite good.
  • Product placement is big in the entertainment industry, folks. When you see someone drinking a generic soda in a movie or on TV, that's 'cause some product placement ad sales person didn't do their jobs well enough, and the program/movie didn't want to give someone free advertising.

    All we're talking about here with real-time insertion is the ability to seamlessly do product placement in post-production. Aside from obscuring real things that were actually there ala the Times Square/New Year's broadcasts of last year, and anachronisms in really old movies and T.V., the ethical issues are pretty much the same.

  • I never cease to find amazing the fact that we have the power of six billion minds and a whole fucking planet with which to just kick ass all over the place, and the best thing a great portion of us can think to do is to figure out how to sell sugard watered to each other better.

    TV has pointed out one uniquely true thing: our minds can be shaped shaped shaped easily and repeatably. But, I still think that people would spend their time on more noble and worthwhile pursuits if only somene would SUGGEST to them what to do. Solution: just mix in a little algebra with each mention of N'Sync; all they need is to realize the power of their own brains to break out of these stupid chains...
  • (include wacko_conspiracy_theory.h)

    That would explain the cancellation of The Lone Gunmen [thelonegunmen.com]. After all they used LINUX (or at least Langley and Byers did. . . ). M$ obviously paid Fox to take 'em off the air. . .


  • I was watching Happy Gilmore the other day on network television and I noticed that a lot of the product placement ads were digitial REMOVED. For those of you who haven't seen this movie, it is very funny but the product placement goes WAY overboard. For instance TWO scenes take place at a Subway(TM) restaurant and Happy wears a Subway shirt for the last 40 mins of the movie. The weird thing was that the Subway logo was digitially greyed out (correct spelling - I am Canadian :) ) most of the time as were other ads. Technology is a double edged sword ;), we just have to make sure that consumers don't get screwed out of their side of the sword by legislation.

  • So who's the bad guy? The advertiser or the estates? Well, that's easy, the advertisers are always the bad guy. They're evil by nature.

    Anyhow, I understand your offense, and I suppose the mere fact that those speeches are used in advertisements is inherently offensive even if they don't have Dr. King dancing with a vacuum cleaner or pouring beer.

  • Worse, He could be at the wedding at Cana and they run out of wine so He turns water into Coors Light.

    I'm sure the day will come when something like this happens.
  • by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2001 @09:10AM (#203458) Homepage Journal
    Are you referring to Vivien Leigh?

    It's been going on for a long time over here in America, too. Off the top of my head, there's been ads using digitally altered footage of Fred Astaire, John Wayne, Martin Luther King and Lou Gehrig (although the last two were tasteful, I thought), not to mention the movie Ben Hur (or whatever that famous chariot race scene was from).

  • by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2001 @12:25PM (#203459) Homepage Journal
    Well, I certainly see your point, however, there are two different types of uses here. First we have Fred Astaire dancing with the product being sold and we have the Duke pouring Coors Light beer (or whatever it was), and then we have a commercial which uses images of the two famous speeches, but doesn't manipulate the image to place their product in with the person in question. I would have to agree that it might be seen as trivializing Dr. King's speech, which is wrong, but at least he wasn't up there with a bottle of liquor saying "I have Jim Beam" or "I brush with Gleem" or "I play with Bleem" or something equally stupid.

    Anyhow, as far as tasteless goes, nothing beats the typical network TV sitcom. Tasteless and unfunny. (Tasteless and funny would be OK... but that's a different discussion). The only thing worse is the sleazy tabloid trash passing as network news "magazines" like Doltline.

  • I'm just waiting for the day that Bo and Luke get lost and fire up the General Lee's OnStar system.

    Not to pick nits, but the General Lee was a Dodge Challenger, and OnStar is a GM thing.
  • The last comment to unplug the TV is the best one.

    Seriously-- I don't have cable any more and haven't had it for years now. The occasional time I do happen to see some television only serves to reinforce my opinion that it's all crap. Other people I know have commented that the longer you go without it, the less you want anything to do with it.

    So, ditch commercial TV and go play some games (until product placement occurs there too), go biking, do something with your children, or do any one of millions of other cool things waiting out there.

  • Critics complain there is no appropriate manner of inserting digital ad images into a TV show because it blurs the line that ought to separate editorial content from paid peddling.
    Mr. Chester said he would ask the Federal Communications Commission to "examine this as to its impact"...

    I don't see how this is any different than normal product placement. Sure it's not in its pure recorded form, but neither is a 2.5 hour movie trimmed to fit a 2 hour time slot. Product placement has been around for a long time. Advertisers are just keeping up with the times and "going digital". The only thing I find interesting about this is the fact that digital video editing is good enough for them to make it cost-effective to insert products in to a rerun.
  • What about protecting the integrity of the actor?

    Will Capt. Janeway have any rights as to the product her character consumes and therefore endorses? I'm sure at the time of the initial filming if she violently objected to pitching a particular product for moral reasons that they would have taken it into consideration.

    Maybe she doesn't like Pizza Hut because they perform cruel testing on baby pepperonies or something. She might not want to be associated with them.
  • This sounds a lot like the technology that Duke Phillips (from Jon Lovitz's "The Critic") wanted to use to advertise his products. Except they went a step further, and altered what the characters were saying, etc.

    (It was a cross between this technology and "The Running Man.")

    Life imitates art?


  • Memes. Ifectious, insidious lot, all of them.
  • by west ( 39918 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2001 @08:18AM (#203466)
    I'm not a free-marketer in general, but it's certainly not a right to have advertisment free entertainment. If the placed ads begin to detract from the enjoyment of the show, then it will start to lose viewers. Obviously, there's a sweet spot somewhere that maximizes revenue.

    Is there any reason why the people who own the rights to the shows shouldn't be allowed to attempt to maximize their revenue? I don't see how society would suffer as a whole if the practice became widespread. Obviously the viewers lose, but that's the perogative of a seller who has what a buyer wants: in this case, entertainment.

    Of course, when advertising and (theoretically) objective news mix, that's a whole different matter.

  • On the other hand advertising costs money which is reflected in the price of every thing you buy. It's a lose-lose for the consumer who not only has to sit through advertising but has to pay more for the underarm deoderant too.

    You forgot to mention one alternative. Collect money for quality programming without ads. Kind of what HBO does huh?
  • Well my point is this. Those people who can not afford $15.00 per month for cable would be much better off if broadcast TV was like HBO. I am positive the added cost to everything they bought this month due to advertising budget was more then $15 or $25. Every time they bought Milk they paid for those stupid milk mustache ads, every time they paid for toilet paper they paid more.

    But really who really cares about the poor in the first place. This is America land of the Dubya. Between the Liberterians, Republicans, and the rest of the corporatist politicians the poor don't count for a pile of crap. They can't buy anything anyway so who cares if they watch TV or not.
  • Arthur C. Clarke is ahead of the game again. One of his early '90s books features a guy who made billions by getting the exclusive license to remove all traces of cigarettes from old movies, because people thought smoking was so revolting.

    Of course he didn't think of the real moneybags aspect, from marketting, but that's just the next step.
  • For anyone who cares, the book is called 'The Ghost of the Grand Banks' and its actually a really boring story about the Titanic and something to do with fractals, from back when they were the NextBigThing(tm).

    I don't actually recomend it. Go back to his old stuff where he's predicting ComSat and so forth. Its much more fun.
  • There are some interesting low-tech examples documented in The Commissar Vanishes: The Falsification of Photographs in Stalin's Russia [newseum.org].
  • The HBO/Showtime model works, if you are not a broadcaster. I was referring to broadcast television, and should have made that explicit.

    Most of the people on slashdot probably don't know people who can't afford cable. I do. Some people I know can't afford the $15/month for basic cable, much less the $10/month for HBO. Their soures of info are the local paper [thespectrum.com] and broadcast tv. And, in their market, the news is paid for by the entertainment.

  • by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2001 @08:11AM (#203473) Journal
    Making TV programs, and movies, takes money. With Tivo and other PVRs allowing a person to skip over the commercials easily, and home video editing becoming ever easier, the old model of the 'commercial break' is beginning to fail. The alternatives are preventing, through copy controls, consumers from recording or time shifting shows, or going out of business.

    The question is, how obtrusive will it be? Will it be ads on billboards in the background, or on the sides of buses as they go by. Or will it be logos on the characters t-shirts?

  • Watch "Grease" (the movie). In one Diner scene the Coca-Cola logo on the menu board in the background is digitally removed. I remember that from back in the 80's.

  • I think this would be hilarious. I'd even like to extend it to non-syndicated shows (e.g., Tom Baker's Doctor offering Davros a green M&M instead of a jelly baby), but that's the kicker with syndication. [Side note: anybody else catch the syndication joke in Spy Kids?]

    The only way I could see this going badly wrong is when the television images used are recent enough that the joke isn't apparent, e.g., the Duke selling me a Coors is one thing, former Secretary of State Albright selling me a Coors is something else.

  • Sigh. What I get for posting without coffee...

    The only way I could see this going badly wrong is when the television images used are recent enough that the joke isn't apparent

    That sounds stupid since the show in question is Law & Order. To clarify: I wouldn't really have a problem with new episodes doing this. I might have a problem watching reruns of a two-year old episode with a character drinking soda out of a cup featuring a currently-running movie painted across the cup.

    Now, for more coffee.

  • by British ( 51765 ) <british1500@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 23, 2001 @08:59AM (#203477) Homepage Journal
    Its fun to watch for subtle product placements:


    1. James Bond opens up an IBM thinkpad
    2. (hard to see). Near the end of the movie when the base blows up, you'll see a CRT with an OS/2 bootup screen.(I think it's a bootup screen).

    But what's not to say that a movie named "Corvette Summer" isn't some commercial by Chevrolet?
  • by solios ( 53048 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2001 @08:24AM (#203478) Homepage
    Television is a waste of time- it requires no thought, no action, and fails on nearly every count to be mentally stimulating (excepting PBS and the BBC, but including BBCAmerica)- and to top it off, it tries to cram the thing I hate the most down my throat- ads.

    The ads got to me, to the point of violence. It was interesting, when I was a kid, to tape an episode of Star Trek DS9 and come to the cold realization that out of that 60 minutes of time, less than 45 minutes of it was the program. Deduct credits and intro, and you're down to 42, if that. And probably less these days. That boiled down to three minutes of clutter and fifteen minutes of ads for beer, preparation H, and cadillacs.

    I realized I was getting more out of books, computers, and talking to people that I ever managed to squeeze out of the accursed idiot box. The constant volume shifts between the incessant ads and the blase content were giving me headaches, and the pervasiveness of the marginally talented local news personalities with their overblown egos really started to get to me after I realized that nothing I'd seen on the news bore a direct affect on my day-to-day life. I haven't watched television in over a year- I've made a few exceptions for movies, mostly older films, but in general I've turned off, tuned out, peeled my ass off of the damned couch and done something with my life.

    Turning on a television is a waste of energy. Watching the damned thing is a waste of your life- what's going to make for better memories- a brain full of Voyager and Buffy episodes or a brain full of conversation, creative work, and real experience that the television is never going to come close to giving you?

    Kill the damned thing- it's completely opt-in, so you have no right to bitch about the fucking ads when you can turn it off and do something meaningful.
  • It is disappointing they're looking at a show such as Law and Order for this. I think it takes away from what a quality show it really is, and will drive viewers away with such crass commercialism.

    At least pick something that's more the equivalent of intellectual cotton candy, like 3rd Rock from the Sun. Those viewers are more likely to not be as offended...
  • by Hnice ( 60994 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2001 @08:34AM (#203480) Homepage
    and i'm asking, not being rhetorical. i mean, the issues relating to 'editorial content' and altered reality, i mean, these are fictional shows, so from a certain standpoint, it's all altered reality and editorial content.

    as it stands, advertising already has a much more insidious impact on the determination of the content of the shows that we watch than adding a few coke cans represents. putting a pizza hut box in friends is a clear endorsement of pizza hut -- is this honestly worse for its digital fabrication than, say, behind the scenes deals to decide what they should wear on the basis of the gap's agenda, or giving plot vetos to large conservative corporations like P&G?

    if you aren't going into this with your eyes open, you're setting yourself up. if you aren't watching with the understanding that TV's job is to deliver audiences to advertisers, you'll miss the point every time.

    now, what if dan rather starts putting up fake billboards in 'documentary' footage? that's the real question, and i know it's been done, but what about, for example, changing all signs to read in english when reporting from other countries? where's the slippery slope here? i'm not really sure.

    this is pretty effed up, tho, i'll say that much. makes my head spin a little.

  • Already happening - in reverse. Remember one of the networks digitally removed NBC from Times Square during their NewYearsEve2K broadcast?
  • The term usually applies to movies, where specific scenes have a commercial product (pepsi, coke, m&m) with the camera implicitly focused on the product.

    The effect is the same in this case. Specific placement of commercial products in hopes that the viewers buy the product.
  • This brings some ethical issues to mind? What if the rights to a certain program were sold to another company. Then that company wished to advertise a product that was controversial in some way. The actors/writers/producers that originally worked on that program would have no say in whether they want that product advertised in their work. This would be particularly bad for the actors that are advertising a product which they do NOT really want to endorse. It could give them a bad reputation even though they haven't done anything wrong.
  • I thought paying my monthly bill was enough to buy me a right to watch television. Basic cable gives you only some TV-shows and programs. Most of it is crap, you pay CAD$ 40 for it and you still have to watch the ads. What do you think of that?

    I was speaking of broadcast television, but I do see your point. But you're paying for more than just your channels...you're paying for upkeep of your cable system, the hardware, the reception, and the choice of more channels, regardless of what's on them. There are a good deal of problems with the current cable system (price, no competition except from satalite, etc.) My main point is that the price you pay for cable doesn't go toward the channels, it goes to your provider.

    The Good Reverend
    I'm different, just like everybody else. [michris.com]
  • and to top it off, it tries to cram the thing I hate the most down my throat- ads

    You can feel free to move to the Pay-Per-View model for broadcast television anytime you want. In the meantime, ads pay for your television viewing. With newer technologies like Tivo or the "VCR", you can skip them all together.

    It was interesting, when I was a kid, to tape an episode of Star Trek DS9 and come to the cold realization that out of that 60 minutes of time, less than 45 minutes of it was the program.

    A nitpick: Most shows, including Deep Space Nine (in it's original run, syndicators often edit more) run for 48 minutes. The end credits are approximately a minute, as are the start credits. You're only down to 46 minutes of show.

    I haven't watched television in over a year...

    While I'm sure you think this noble, there's plenty that local television can give you that other media can't. No matter your hatred for local news, in an emergency, they're you're best source for updates. And I'm of the opinion that if you think EVERYTHING on television is a waste of time, there's probably something wrong with your perception, not necessarily the boob tube.

    Watching the damned thing is a waste of your life- what's going to make for better memories- a brain full of Voyager and Buffy episodes or a brain full of conversation, creative work, and real experience that the television is never going to come close to giving you?

    Books will also never give you "a brain full of conversation, creative work, and real experience". While I understand your point, it's silly since the only way to get those things is through those things. Cooking dinner doesn't do it either, but I don't think you're going to stop eating. Television is for entertainment. If you don't find it entertaining, don't watch it. But you shouldn't go in expecting to better your life. It's a nice diversion. That's all. Don't take it so seriously, it's not meant to be.

    Kill the damned thing- it's completely opt-in, so you have no right to bitch about the fucking ads when you can turn it off and do something meaningful.

    Doing something meaningful is wonderful. I don't suggest sitting in front of the television all your waking hours. But "kill" your TV? It's a piece of hardware. When you want to kill plastic, glass, and electronic equipment, the fault is yours and your mental condition, not the collection of parts.

    The Good Reverend
    I'm different, just like everybody else. [michris.com]
  • Every notice how much effort TV producers go through to hide brand-name products during the shows? How many times have you watched a TV show about teenagers, and never see any of them drink a Coke or a Pepsi? It's unrealistic. Almost all teenagers drink soft drinks, so why not make it part of the show?

    Besides, this kind of advertising is limited to consumer products. Of course, this wouldn't be an issue if advertisers would make ads that people actually wanted to watch.
    Lord Nimon

  • by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2001 @08:28AM (#203491)
    I'm just waiting for the day that Bo and Luke get lost and fire up the General Lee's OnStar system.
  • I came up with the perfect one for Lexus. Check this out:

    Guy's crusing along in his generic car at 80-85 mph, when suddenly a Lexus pulls on the onramp at 45 mph and cuts across 5 lanes of traffic, cutting him off. He slams on his brakes and tailgates the Lexus and tailgates the car down to the next exit where it gets off. At the bottom of the exit ramp the light's red so the Lexus stops. He gets out of his car and walks up to the Lexus. He knocks on the window and it rolls down. Inside is a tiny old woman who can't see over the steering wheel. He says "Excuse me, you cut me off back there..." She looks at him, gives him the finger, and says "Fuck you! I drive a Lexus!" and then floors it. Fade to black, voice over, "Fuck you. I drive a Lexus."

    I want to pitch this to Lexus. Think they'll go for it?

  • Well, enough of that then:

    Screw advertising, f**k mass media, and start treatng commercial culture for the lowest common denominator, compromised crap it is.

    Stick with Do It Yourself media:

    Read a book. Travel. Get together with friends and trade stories. Stalk squirrels in the park. Get a border collie and train it to herd Aibo bots.

    And then enjoy a 16 Oz. bottle of cool, refreshing Moxie.


    ** You see?

  • What's next? Digital characters doing ads for real products? Next thing you know Lara Croft will be doing an ad for Pepsi! Oh wait...
  • by zurkog ( 96881 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2001 @09:06AM (#203499) Homepage
    Make your own doctor/latex glove joke...
  • Right now we have commercials and entertainment. Commercials serve business (farmers of humans); entertainment serves the people/cattle. People invest max attention in entertainment and min attention in commercials. Business does the opposite of course. Obvious so far? In the name of grabbing more cattle attention, commercials are made more entertaining and entertainment is made more commercial. Natural convergence, yes? In the golden future there will be no commercials, just great entertainment that pushes the business agenda 100%. Pure dreams of wealth and security. Cattle squeezing efficiency will approach 100%. Commerce is war. It's wasteful, ugly, etc. If you have a job then you collaborate. Money grubbing cowardly foolish weakling that you are. Will drugs save us?
  • I think they hide the can of coke or whatever because the baring of the brand is a heavy deed, to be done intentionally or not at all but never never casually. If the coke logo is to be shown then the coke company wants total control over the context. Otherwise showing it is logo infringement or trademark dandling or some shit like that.
  • When I first saw this ad, I thought it was strange as the Lara Croft character (or a close replica) has been advertising Lucozade (an energy drink) in the UK for some time now.


  • People have rights, dead people are just lumps of meat in the ground.

    It sometimes seems like there should be rights for dead people but once you start having rights for the dead, you run into huge problems. Not the least of which is the inability of people to waive those rights.

    I mean it's already bad enough that copyright extends past a copyright holders death. I mean, how is that supposed to benefit the creator.

    Many of us think that this is a big problem with giving corporations the same rights as an individual, that individuals have an expiry date wheras corporations can continue to monopolise parts of our shared cultures indefinitely (if the politicians keep extending copyright the way they do)

    And anyway, in this case, the thing to remember is that the rights to the actors image is owned by the people with the rights to the image. Sure, the actor may have had a contract for recompense for use of that image but the image itself is not the property of the actor


  • Isn't that what we're coming to? Endless copyright fights over the images of famous people? Wouldn't it be hysterical if all the movie houses started snapping up the copyrights to all famous people-- MGM gets the image of George Washington, Universal gets the Sta Puft Marshmallow Man, etc.

    A company (a charity) in the UK recently tried to copyright Princess Diana. Not specific images of Princess Diana but all and any images of her.

    Their claim was that they wanted to protect her image from being debased by being associated with cheap souveneirs (read the directors wanted to sell expensive souveneirs and buy big cars and houses).

    I think that the british courts told them where they could stick it. Noone has the right to control images of a dead person (other than that they own the copyright on specific images).

    All this just further fed into my rising suspicion that most charities, despite any actual good they may do, are largely set up to provide a nice comfortable salary for their directors. This to the extent that I won't donate to any charity unless I know that all expenses (including salaries) are kept to a minimum (i.e. I haven't donated anything in a long time).

    I mean, take a look at that box of girlscout cookies. It's made by a company somewhere. Do you think the director of that company is driving around in a Ford Escort? Is that really what you wanted your money to go towards? Do yourself and the girlscouts a favour and just cut them a check for the money you would have spent (unless you really dig the cookies)

    Anyway, gone off at a tangent a bit there.


  • What I want to know is, can they invoke the "if it takes longer than 30 minutes, it's free" rule


  • Just a factual correction: it was NBC that was doing the digital work, and they were using it to replace lots of the actual ads in Times Square with ones of their choosing.
  • by NumberSyx ( 130129 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2001 @08:27AM (#203519) Journal

    If I were an Ad Exective, I'd be looking for a way to advertise to people who use the fast forward button. The obvious way is to have static signs in the background which are easily read even at FFwd speeds. A clever producer however could come up with a long slow gesture done by the actor, which may or may not be meaningful at normal speed, but when viewed at FFwd speeds takes on a completely different meaning, or the meaning becomes obvious.

    Jesus died for sombodies sins, but not mine.

  • A few years ago I read an article (probably in Wired or another similar mag) that discussed this type of technology and some examples of use.

    How weird will it be when there is a big Coke logo in the center of the World Cup championship match field? It won't be on the actual field, but it'll be there on the 'ole TV screen. Will we find it odd that your favorite friend on Must See TV is drinking whatever soda the syndication advertisers dictate? Coke on one channel, Pepsi on another? (personally I'd love to see someone drinking Shasta Orange!)

    I guess I view televsion advertisments similar to a computer virus. They come up with new and effective ways to infect our thoughts and we come up with ways to avoid those new methods.

    Just like not downloading something from the internet is a sure-fire way to avoid a virus, so is not watching TV or reading any magazines/newspapers (or leaving your house or looking outside) a sure-fire way to avoid advertisments. Unfortunately this method tends to leave you isolated and alone.

    Personally, I like analyzing ads and attempting to figure out how they are trying to infect my thoughts. It's a fun hobby. ("And knowing is half the battle!")

    The day will probably come when the Futurama inspired "Dream Advertisment" will come to pass. I just hope that they use cool colors when they do.
  • if you aren't going into this with your eyes open, you're setting yourself up.

    Most of us watch TV with our eyes open... WE get more out of it that way.* [slashdot.org]

    * My apologies to the blind readers of slashdot.


  • by ZoneGray ( 168419 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2001 @11:30AM (#203532) Homepage
    I don't see a problem with this. I'll just buy the advertised products, and pay for them with superimposed images of dollar bills.

    What's the big deal?
  • Almost a year ago now, I was over there when they ran a commercial features a 40s actress (from Gone with the Wind, i can't remember her name) drinking what I believe was Iced tea. It was quite well done, actually, from what I could tell they used a stand-in for the close ups, and in the long shots just replaced something else that was in her hand.

    As I recall, this seems like the first and perhaps only commercial I've seen where the person is made to directly endorse something.


  • by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2001 @11:20AM (#203540) Journal
    Is this post your nightmare yet? I can keep going if you like!

    Ha! Interesting.

    Here is an interesting story. I have gone camping with the same group of 4-6 friends for 10 years. We went hiking in Ontario's Algonquin Park [algonquinpark.on.ca] last year. When we got out of the car we noticed how much of our conversation (and 'quips') had been 'stolen' from the popular media, be they commercials, television, movies, music etc etc. We were repeating lines from movies - singing pop songs etc.

    It really startled us when we noticed, so we made a pact to *not* make any reference to ideas that were not of our own creation. No 'whazzup' or 'fascinating (in the spock voice from ST:TOS) etc. Because we were in the woods - trying to enjoy nature and be self-sufficient (we were doing a 36km loop by backpack) we thought it was a good idea. When anyone would 'slip' we all would just act like we didnt understand what the person said - like he had said 'blabdallkdjkfjd' and it was incomprehensible. It was really weird making note - that even when you try - just how much influence popular media has on you. We were amazed.

    It was an excellent trip. I suggest that next time you are talking in a group of close friends, stop and pay attention for a while - then tell them all that you had been paying attention.... it is very weird when you notice it.

  • I think that we will be getting more and more intrusive advertising. Banner ads are getting larger. Just look at ZDNet's advertising. On any article there is an ad for Compaq or IBM that takes up most of the page. This is just coming in on TV now. I don't have a solution, but god help the day that push webpages actually happen.
  • Without the dollars generated by advertising, there wouldn't be any good television programs. M*A*S*H required lots and lots of money: actors, sets, lighting, directors, editors, etc. You can't get something for nothing in the art/entertainment business.
  • Perhaps I spoke too narrowly.

    Making television shows takes money. Lots of money. Even if you could find artists to work for free (writers, directors, actors, etc), you're going to have to pay a lot of technicians to set up, maintain, and operate the equipment necessary to make it happen. (cameras, video tapes, satellite transmitters, camera operators, cue card holders, grips, lighting personnel, etc etc etc).

    Given this need for money, the end consumer (viewer) pays for it, somehow, no matter what.

    TV could be paid for with subscription models (e.g. HBO, which wasn't running external ads the last time I saw it), taxes (e.g. the BBC), donations (e.g. PBS) and probably a number that I haven't thought of, off the top of my head.

    Subscription model: obvious
    Taxes: You pay from your paycheck
    Donations: Obvious

    Now, I'm not saying that TV wouldn't survive without all of the flashy F/X and big dollar promotions, but even so, it costs you something to watch televised entertainment.

  • Great idea, and in fact there's a cheesy boy band with a ready-made name that just begs for such educational enrichment. I mean, just imagine how much kids would learn about math if 98 Degrees were instead known as 1.7104 Radians!
  • In sports especially baseball they already do this. The next time you watch a baseball game on tv keep in mind that some of those ads on the fences and backstop don't really exist.

  • you ever seen the ads for Classic TV (maybe its nick at nite)? When they take a clip from a classic show and dub over it to make it modern, and it makes no sense..kinda the same thing here.
  • This strikes me as the same sort of distortion of an artistic product as the colorizing of black and white movies a few years back. And it will probably be just as obvious. I can't wait for them to start digitally dubbing in dialog. I can just imagine it:

    "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. But if I did, I'd suggest that we go to see Dr. Marvin Monroe, Marital Counselor."

    "We'll always have Paris where we can visit EuroDisney and have a great time with the family!"

    Onorio Catenacci

    "And that's the world in a nutshell -- an appropriate receptacle."

  • Here's what I want: I want advertisers to pay me to view ads directly. And I will pay the tv shows I watch directly. That way, I can much more effectively "vote with my dollar," and I don't have to put up with ads that I'm not interested in.

    Imagine this. The next time you want to purchase, say, a new car, you go to an ad agency [website] and they pay you $100 or something to sit through commercials for cars. Then you go to a dealer and take a closer look at cars that interest you.

  • by Spackler ( 223562 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2001 @08:59AM (#203570) Journal
    "With any luck we'll see Capt. Janeway ask the food replicator for a meal, and a personal pan pizza will materialize."

    With any luck we'll see Capt. Janeway ask the food replicator for a meal, and Seven of Nine's cat suit will digitally drop off!
    That would be some freakin product placement!
  • I can't understand why they welded the door of their CDRom closed. Those crazy Duke boys.

    Murphy's Law of Copiers

  • Interestingly, the most obvious product placements often aren't payed for. Austin Powers' beatle in AP2 was not payed for by VW. Likewise, FedEx didn't have a hand in Castaway. On the other hand, most cars in commercial movies (with the exception of AP2 I suppose) are payed for. There are always glaring examples of product placement in summer/fall movies *COUGH* Denise Richards defusing nuke with Jornado in Bond *COUGH*

    Many non-payed-for ads are removed for TV release. For example, a coke can in Mallrats was digitally erased for TV because Coke probably didn't want their image tarnished on ABC. There is probably a good chance that Subway didn't even pay for their placement in Happy Gillmore. Otherwise, I doubt Fox (or whatever network showed it) would take the effort to remove the references. It's not because their contract was up or anything that the references were removed. Odds are that it was because the TV network showing the movie was afraid of getting sued.
  • Sorry, but I have a problem with antitele-evangelists. Like it or not, TV is THE popular artistic medium of the last few generations. Hell, even music, which stood beside television is now pretty much controlled by its advertising on television (note that I'm concentrating solely on popular music here). I don't think it's particularly healthy that people watch television more than they sleep (or whatever that statistic is up to now), but I still recognize its cultural significance. I don't watch much TV, but I'm certainly not going to eschew it and say it's totally worthless. Television is very much akin to computers and books in that if you use them passively you get no benefit. Computers and books have much the same effect if you simply play video games and read books. Unless you go and write computer programs or prose you aren't exactly making memories of a brain full of creative work. The main problem with TV is that it's so damn easy to use passively and so difficult to become an active part in. It's easy to write a book, but not to produce a TV show. That said, since so many people watch TV and, despite your pleas, they aren't going to stop, you should be like Michael Moore, Jon Stewert, Ken Burns, etc and try and make TV a more valuable medium rather than simply blasting it. Sure, a majority of TV programming is worthless, but don't blame the newspaper for the news eh?
  • Yeah, apparently they stuck in all the pro-fedex messages (I haven't seen the movie, but from the trailer it seemed like Hanks was extremely dedicated to delivering some package on time - so much that he missed christmas dinner or something) in order to counter the obvious negative message sent by hurling a purple fedex plane into the water. I think if you go and search Ebert's Q&A section at suntimes.com you will find something on this. Then again I may have seen it somewhere else.
  • There are two issues here. One problem for the sellers of the ads, and then there's the moral problem everyone wants to talk about.

    So, the problem for the sellers of these sponsored placements is, the placements aren't a limited comodity like standard commercials are. You can only have X number of minutes of commercials in a television program before the audience tunes out. Advertisers pay big bucks for those minutes on hit programs like 'Survivor' BECAUSE they're buying a scarce product (the attention of a large audience). What heppens if that product is no longer scarce? It's value decreases. For example, 'Law & Order' has many scenes involving people sitting at desks and tables. Will each and every table have a can of Coke or Pepsi on it? Will the advertiser pay for each and every placement? Will they pay by the minute or by the placement? Or will they buy the category 'every table scene, so that every scene that has a table in it will have a Coke can on the table?

    If the producers are not careful, all they'll achieve with these new advertising slots is to drive down the cost of advertising, and it may get to the point where their total revene from product placement is less than their total revenue from the higher priced advertising slots (which they'd probably have to phase out or risk some kind of viewer backlash.

    The second issue relates to viewer response to product placement, and as the atticle states, some tests have already been performed, but the risk advertisers run of alienating consumers with poor product placements is far greater than the risk they ran of producing poor quality or unapealing treditional ads. This issue would also affect the production company being paid for the placement, because the product and the programming content would be tied closer together, and associated in the viewers mind, since they can't simply get up and go to the kitchen for another beer, durring an ad.

    Theres also the more moralistic issue of 'currupting' quality programming content, for example, what would happen if 'Seinfeld' in reruns, started drinking Gatorade instead of YooHoo? What about if Drew Carey started drinking Lebatt Blue instead of Buzz Beer? Would the audience object? I guess only time will tell.


  • And, there's even a non-registration version of the story [nytimes.com] to be found here [nytimes.com].

    Somehow I doubt Janeway'll order a pizza tonight, since it's the series finale, but maybe if she does a dream sequence, she can order lots of branded food.

  • What offends me about this is that some aesthetically-challenged geek is going to modify movies and television programs in a way that may be totally offensive to the show's creators, actors, and director. If, for a hypothetical example, Steven Spielberg chooses not to include Volkswagon cars in his movies because of VW's ties to the Nazis, some marketing dweeb should not be able to command that VWs be digitally added to scenes in Jurassic Park or The Color Purple.

    This is wholly different than a creative person agreeing to a "product placement" deal with a corporation. This is butchering something after it has been created. While we can all laugh at this being done to shows that we consider less-than-artistic, I don't want to see quality programs (MASH, ER, The Sopranos, or even The Simpsons) subjected to these heavy-handed edits.

    Before any of you Young Republicans start spewing the 'capitalism is good' speech, art is better. Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia, and Schindler's List won't be improved by digitally adding products to the scenes and their impact could be lessened on an entire generation.

  • Are you saying VW is tied somehow to the Nazis?

    Yes, you inbred moron! Hitler was the one who called for the creation of a "people's car" in 1937 -- the VW Beetle. VW was originally operated by the German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront), a Nazi organization. Volkswagon supplied military vehicles to the Nazis. The list goes on and on. Try reading before you post.

  • Haven't you seen the recent headlines? Advertising like this doesn't work, as epitomized by all of the dotcom belly up's lately. And just cause they said it on TV, doesn't mean it's true. Unless you're talking about beer commercials, in which reality does mirror what's on the TV, 'cause hey!, you're drunk, and frogs and lizards really DO talk then!
  • From the article: "We're always looking at ways to leverage our viewer relationships for marketers, in an appropriate manner"

    That's one of the most convulted pieces of double-talk I've read since... yesterday. "Appropriate manner" my ass!

  • by Obliqueness ( 321184 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2001 @08:42AM (#203589) Homepage
    But under the DMCA, use of the food replicator would violate Pizza Hut's intellectual property rights to the recipe of Personal Pan Pizza.

    Or maybe not, if it's used for liscensed, official marketing purposes.
  • At what point is it a lie to do such a thing? At what point is it legally fraudulent? How can we make laws to protect consumers, without resorting to a "Ministry of Truth" in Washington that decides what reality is OK for people?
  • Example: The lastest X-Files -- Mulder and Skinner are running from aliens, and yell "let's take the [Chevy] Blazer!" They go through this cool chase scene and get away. Only problem is their driving defies the laws of physics, only film editing makes it seem so fast. Driving like that in real life causes the vehicle to roll over and maybe kill someone. There are jerks out there who don't realize this, they think having a Blazer makes it OK to drive like a maniac. They're responsible for their own driving of course, but the X-Files and other tv shows put a false impression in these idiots' heads about the Blazer, and the rollover accident takes out innocent bystanders, passengers, etc...

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!