Are we too uptight?

I’m coming to the part a little late (okay, 20+ million views late), but after watching this video for the launch of TNT in Belgium I am once again reminded that some of the best experiential marketing happens in other countries.

Why can’t companies do things like this in America? Can you imagine what would happen if they did? In our “post-9/11” world the SWAT team would have descended on this square within minutes of the button being deployed. The square would have looked like a scene from the Hurt Locker.

hurt locker film

Yup, something like that.

We’re just too afraid. And sometimes we have good reason to be, but look what it’s costing us. As consumers it’s robbing us of exciting experiences like this. Think of the story everyone in the square that day will be telling their friends for years to come. Think of how excited they were as it was happening. The rush of adrenaline, the laugh after the reveal, the “what the fuck are we seeing?” feeling shared by everyone there.

Instead we get awkward flash mobs.

Can you honestly say that lame stunt is as good as the TNT stunt above? As marketers we are robbed of the ability to create incredibly memorable, shareable experiences that drive home the brand message in way that almost forces people to tell their friends.

I know that in this country we can’t have people staging fake gun fights in the street, but there’s a part of me that really wishes we could.

James Bond is a whore.

Daniel CraigJames Bond has sold his soul. Or rather, the producers of his next film have sold it for him. Rumor has it, he will pass up his famous martini (shaken, not stirred) for a Heineken in the upcoming film “Skyfall.”

I’m okay with product placement (or integration as we marketers like to call it now). Characters in movies and TV shows need to use products/services and I’d rather see a real brand in their can Corca-Cola or Sorny. It adds to the realism, makes the scene more relatable. And let’s be honest, it does a great deal to defray the high cost of producing the shows and movies that we love.

What I take issue with is when the integration of the brand fundamentally changes the nature of the content itself. Brand integration should be subtle. When I see a horrible instance of product placement it’s like someone snuck a commercial into the film. For instance:

What the hell is that? This does not add to the storyline – it detracts from it. Because it’s so ludicrous. No one behaves this way. No one looks at new shoes like that (well, maybe Carrie Bradshaw and her friends).

And to have Bond forsake his trademark drink in favor of one paid for by advertising is just disgusting. Can’t the villain drink it? or can’t he slide a beer can down the bar to disarm an opponent? Or maybe Bond commandeers a Heineken truck to chase down a bad guy. But don’t change the character for money. Where does it end? Maybe he stops being a spy and starts delivering packages for FedEx? Or does he stop wearing a watch altogether and checks the time on a new Nokia Lumia 900?

The sad thing is that this is such a huge retreat to the lame Bond movies from before the Daniel Craig reboot. “Die Another Day” featured so much obnoxious product placement (20 companies, $70 million dollars) and such a lame plot that critics called it “Buy Another Day.” Let’s just hope they don’t bring back Denise Richards as Nuclear Physicist Christmas Jones.

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