Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Tom Peters’s blog on Selling (Out) Broadway reprise

Posted by shannonclark on May 24, 2005

Selling (Out) Broadway reprise

I left my longest comment yet on the Tom Peter’s blog:

As a writer myself, I find this trend a mixed one – I certainly see the branding value of what people at Springwise/Trendwatching ( call “branded brands” – i.e. the use of one brand (Broadway, Hollywood, TV shows) to promote another brand (though in fairness to Springwise, they focused on branded products using other branded products such as Smuckers Jam as an ingrediant in another item).

But like the all pervasive use of 555-####’s for phone numbers in the media, brands are rapidly becoming signs and reminders of what (and who) paid for the show, and in their all to often blurred state indications of who did not.

If you watch most of TV you see a very removed version of “reality” – the only brands visible on most shows, especially on a network like MTV, are those brands who paid to be there (or much less often brands that weren’t seen yet as brands). The cast of most reality TV wear shirts not with actual logos but with made up slogans or catch phrases, the kitchens are full only of specific products, even scenes of “reality” are filtered and blurred.

It is a small item, but it is also a grating one – it shows how divorced our creative products have become from the reality we all experience. Who knows, perhaps this will lead to a generation who demands clothes and items without brands. 🙂

On a more serious note however, by adding an assumption that “visible brand == payment” it raises new issues of the chinese wall. It is one thing for the supporters of a show to be mostly anonymous to the show itself (clips mixed in, occasionally “sponsored by” messages as in early Radio and TV) but as the brands become an active part of the experience of the show they clearly have the strong potential to influence the show itself.

Further, I wonder how this will change our view of history over time. Plays are studied usually by reference to the text – does this sponsorship “change” the text of Simon’s play as performed elsewhere, or just for this run (I assume just for this run). On TV will future reruns (or DVD boxed sets) have logos from brands which fail. Technically I suspect that some shows at least may substitute one brand for another for future reruns (or market segmentation, I think some live sporting events show different ads based on the audience, inserted electronically and not visible to people attending the game)

As well, what happens to the next piece sponsored by a future Enron, Worldcom, or Tyco? We’ve begun to see this as sports stadiums get renamed/rebranded, but as brands work their way further into all entertainment (and increasingly only there if payments changed hands) this problem will be one that happens with greater frequency.

A great topic.



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