Wall Street has met “Facebook’s” Internet “like” button, like “white on rice!” And, there’s a world starving for rice. Or, is there?
Is “Facebook” and Wall Street a “wolf”? You the consumer… “little red”?
The joy of “liking” products from your device, for income or for free, might be short-lived, and has a danger, though reward also: “Facebook” will surely eventually favor endorsement of prevailing groups to satisfy the advertiser, based on that group’s “coolness” quotient, receptiveness, participation level etc.; but, (and here’s the danger) the endorser’s credibility and relevance is on a diminishing scale of returns. The odds are, that at some point, no one will care what product you or your group use.
Remember the film “The Social Network”? One I like, for not neglecting the [price of “fame”], in its seemingly autobiographical story depiction. But, you too could be paid handsomely in the short term as an active “liker”! Just like “Facebook”! Can you “like” “Facebook”?
The “Facebook” advertising model might value to remember that consumers are much less loyal today, than when boxer Max, endorsed Cola years ago. What happened to (Max), was that he couldn’t live on the endorsements “forever” (so the advertiser proved not very loyal to him either, at his greatest time in need). That’s what I call corporate/citizen divorce. “Can I get an attorney?”
Consumer beware: Do not accept exclusive product brand use contracts from content providers! A free society does not need these, and such practices will cost consumers dearly, unless class action prevails – while corporate defense lawyers reap rewards without one. Unlike personal contracts (written or unwritten) between people, product use for many people changes daily and does not require the same degree of loyalty that which a family requires.
As a consumer, on an index somewhere, do I care whether person “a”, who I find interesting, or person “b”, who I also find interesting, endorse “conflicting” or competing products between person “a” and “b”? No. I don’t define people by the products they use. And, I don’t use bad products endorsed by people, based on whether I “like” or “dislike” them. Heck, my brand choice might be better than their choice, for any given singular reason. How about you? Don’t you like ability to decide for yourself?
Product placement, yes in movies also, has been practiced for many years, as an agreed means of collecting revenue, to create art, to satisfy the donor, and then to sell that art back to the person who likes the product “placed”, discriminately within the art.
It’s sort of like our government (or a world governing body) using our tax dollars, from our labor, to fund project creation “given” back to us, for us to then consume and to use. Of course now, with so many American people not paying taxes, not working, and still consuming – out of human necessity, the project creators are wondering what they can do to keep the “wheels turning”, without further revolution and/or leadership change that is difficult to provide. I have to think back to the words former President Bush used during his presidential term… “let’s roll”.
In the 1970′s, artist Andy Worhal put a brand of soup on a canvas. Most of us born around that time know the brand. Placing a product in art similarly today, in media, speech etc. is not a crime, but it becomes questionable practice when consumers’ money is used to create “junk”, when payers want more than just “junk” in return.
Similarly, there are societal problems when intellectual property is stolen. Privacy breaches are also of concern. There need to be protections in place to prohibit such activity or the economy suffers for all. I think many of the contemporary problems in today’s economy stem directly to theft of intellectual property, piracy, and misdirection of pay.
Where is the line between junk, peace, quality, war? That’s rather simplistic I realize, but the point is that it boils down to that, in the exchanges of art and product.
How much “junk” can consumers permit to be consumer worthy, on the marketplace, before large scale protests in streets, prison lock ups, economic depressions, and debt, entirely replace wide scale sanity, order, and fair & natural growth in our domestic markets? How much indecency, or product bombardment, can consumers stomach, before they start to go insane? Literally…. filling hospitals. And can the governments maintain their responsibility to us, to create jobs for consumers, to spend toward chosen product needs and family?
“Facebook” isn’t there yet… but in the era of flash mobs, flash-buys, computer insanity etc. the concerns remain real for them too.
That quotient changes with each one of us, on a daily basis. And, I guess that is good for some of life.
To what degree are you really in control? To what degree do you become the scheme of conspiracy of one, or of several? To what degree are you individually in control? Collectively? Are you giving up control? Are you taking control?
How well do those who collect dollars from brand users really know the consumer’s needs… deep down? How much of a marionette does one become when even paid to use the product – as some are? Want to cut the strings? Or, do you like ‘em?
Discover products together. But, don’t define yourself by the product, or allow the product to define you. The brand will never know you “better” than your family or closest friends do. So put your value in your friends, not your brands. Originally, “Facebook” devised a way for guy friends to put physical looks of girls on a ratings scale. While “monetizing” or better said marketing looks (nothing new), what was new, was that friends could communicate with one another, the level of “liking” of certain looks. The network found a good way to connect friends and that was the mother of invention. That was until it found a way to exploit in another way – brand competition among companies, rather than rating the looks of girls on college campus. It has shifted from “hosting” looks, to “hosting” advertisers. Should “it” know your preferences if exploited for commercial gains? Making traders wealthy at your expense?
How different are we REALLY from one another? Pretty different it turns out. Product creators don’t know you or me as well as they would like to think that they do; but, they get really close to some of us, some times. (That’s why this essay is cautionary). Sometimes we want that, even need that, but most of the time we don’t. Some people are watched pretty closely, in a “fish bowl”, under the assumption that everyone can be a marketing experiment. Still, most of the time, with all their product and consumer research, they’re well off mark, most of the time. Why is this?
People’s tastes and preferences can turn on a dime, and they do. “Rats!”, says the brand creator!
Unless, it can create an addictive campaign, effectively; based on lies or/and false promises, or briberies. Can we say “election cycle”? Or, “cigarettes”? It’s a clever (and deadly for some) “game”, that is ever evolving. Could you imagine fictional “Facebook” pages? Falling in love with a fictional “Facebook” person? Always shopping their brands? Trying to be just like them? And they don’t even exist?
But, still, every one of us does use products. And, each of us wants a “good” product. What is good? Well on some days “junk” is “good”. Though shameless on part of the product creator, and shameless on part of the consumer, it’s a real problem – when too much junk flushes out the few things that every one of us need.
All this brings me to something I argue: That product placement in movies, as a commercial, is boring. Why? Because the movie-going audience, worldwide, is sophisticated, over much time so, like a wine connoisseur, a book worm, a music lover, a stage show spectator, a scholar. This has been, in America, probably due to many years of a relatively low movie consumer cost, over much time, for a movie ticket seat, in a nicely arranged and air conditioned theater. And, for whatever reasons, many, many tickets have been sold domestically and worldwide.
Successful, like many brand products, for various reason and theory; the differing factor separating it from most products, is that “intellectual property”, as it’s called, has other components of consumption. In film writing, the challenge for the writer is to create new fiction that the consumer hasn’t already seen in one shape or form, already – a narrative.
Stories, like music songs, cycles, and other arts, move along with intellectual needs that need to be separated from brand product. They are human connections that try to move masses of people in a way that small communities, groups, or individuals can not quite as effectively.
Sure, there’s market research in movie making, and movies that are made trying to brand, is not a good model either.
That’s what is so great about moving picture done right, by professionals, and why the challenge is appealing to writers with good intentions, and, other producing members.
So, why is product brand placement in movies, as a commercial, largely boring? Again, the audience is sophisticated. With hard drive recorders that block advertising, movie theaters with uninterrupted play, uninterrupted concerts (except for desirable intermissions), books – first page to last, music play without interruptions, blue ray features… consumers can get away from product commercials and are able to finally enjoy the art! Their consumption of these is evidence of that. Some people might call it “the art of life”.
(Interruptions such as the phone ringing or the baby crying are not quite as unwanted as many commercials are). That is, of course, something else in reality.
Movie narratives, without commercial drive is higher concept. Still these need advertising.
Audiences realize that they are tricked when more versions of the same product are available. With high selection, some ingenuity arises. But, do we really need to see too much movie franchising? Select from 10 versions of the same politician; or, 10 versions of the same incumbent? More choice doesn’t necessarily mean greater variety.
More choices might make everyone even less satisfied.
A market too nuanced with product “variety”, means that fewer masses are reached in a human connection. With movies, people who like movies are attracted to a narrative. Narratives pierce through the common fray and must either seek “cult fan” followings, or reach out to a prominent group of people, in a way that elevates beyond a particular product share.
And so many times, more and more often, films that are authentic provide little difference between a narrative on screen, and someone’s life; transcending product brands via theme. Whose life is on the screen? Yours? Mine? Your neighbor’s? How much is myth? How much is reality? How much is a combination of you and me? How much of that is our own life? How much of that have we lived? How much of that do we still need to live? Normal products cannot fill this human need for narrative.
But, you still get to decide! Not someone else.
Today’s product endorsement is yesterday’s newspaper. Sorry “like” button fans. But, it is interesting for certain sizes of groups, or micro-societies, in the “Facebook” experiment. And movies will be “liked” there too of course. We want that.
As for celebrity product endorsers, the clear winner will be the celebrity endorser and whatever cut any broker gets in the endorsement deal.
Back to movies, (which in many recent years has been very subtle with product endorsement – much to the high esteem and trustworthiness of viewers) there is a risk still of promoting one predominant political view, like a political party might, and that is of course counter to art often times.
In sum, life is not a commercial. It can be, if it’s totally shallow. Life may however be a movie. One person’s reality may be someone else’s fiction. And life is far more interesting for all of us, when people like a product, not just because someone else does.
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