Always outnumbered. Generally overdresssed.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Make ads not art

I've always loved this clip. I love the way you watch it think, 'but how is he going to answer this question in the relatively tiny amount of time left once the interviewer has finally shut up?' And then he does, and with spare time for goggling around the room.

I sort of like advertising, and I really like art, and I think it's very important that the two aren't mixed. Sometimes when you read George Pelecanos and he says things like 'she reached over to turn off the alarm on her Sony Sleepmaster' or whatever you just feel like someone has taken a shit right into your brain.

And Transformers the Movie, that turned into a hideous co-branding gang-bang. Can you imagine being the screenwriter that had to manage this particular branded intervention?

He killed himself soon afterwards.

Don't even get me started on Casino Royale.

A piece of writing can't be a piece of writing with all the demands of its own integrity met whilst also being an advert. Just like you can't make a really good advert if you're trying to get some other message across, even if it's how clever or original or artistic you are.

There's also this clip on YouTube, which, with the translation, is very much like something from a David Lynch film.

I think I'm getting blogging fatigue, it's where you get sick of holding forth to an empty room. I really need an illustrator, just to break the monotony. Are you an illustrator?


Anonymous said...

No, sorry.

Sell! Sell! said...

Amen to that.
I think people, while they don't particularly 'like' ads, live with them because they know they're part of the deal. And *some* are useful, and some do their business without punching you in face.

But it really spoils the enjoyment of a film when you see a product shoe-horned in there. It feels like it's not a particularly good ad for the product, and it's really detrimental to the film.

Ben said...

What if you write your book with no thought to product placement, then do not change a word of it, then get some broker to get some money off any companies you happen to mention?

Gordon Comstock said...

I'm not sure you'd get any brands to buy into it, cause otherwise they'd be held to ransom constantly by novelists - which is a delicious idea but just not what life is like.

Unless you agree to let them fuck you beforehand they're not interested, because they don't get to exert power.

I often think that's the subtext with clients - it's just a chance for high-achieving conformists to order creative people around, which is what they've wanted to do since they were at school.

Tom said...

Brand names fill our world, so why not write about them? Some authors could argue it helps define what kind of world they're creating. A reader probably won't know what a specific Sony alarm clock looks like, but they might have a pretty good mental image of Sony products and the kind of person who might buy one.

I say this after re-reading the Silence of the Lambs. Thomas Harris is well known for using luxury products to define Hannibal's personality. When he stabs you in the guts, it will be with the best stiletto money can buy and when he eats your brains, he'll fry them in a Le Creuset.

This for me works, although you could say it's a lazy way of defining character. What I found jarring in the book was how Clarice Starling constantly 'chugged Coke.'It just made me think the author must drink loads of the stuff.

Interestingly, former ad copywriter Fay Weldon was paid by Bulgari for her book, the Bulgari Connection. And it seems loads of others have done it too:

Ben said...

So you don't disagree in principle; you just don't think it can be done?

American Psycho would have been all the poorer for a lack of brands. And decapitating whores/walking around with their severed heads on your Johnson.

Gordon Comstock said...


American Psycho is a very good example, because it demonstrates that it is intention that matters.

Obviously if Bret Easton Ellis had got Oliver Peoples or Ralph Lauren involved before he started writing, the client might have had just a few little issues.

Ben said...

And yet...I bet the cityboy shitwipes who lapped it up from the wrong direction deified the brands in the same way that Patrick Bateman did.

Funny how you can be an insane serial killer and also a powerful brand spokesman...

Mike Laurie said...

have a google of 'purefold', it's quite an interesting take on product placement.