The Playgoer: Product Placement

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Product Placement

A piece in the Toronto Star about--heavens forfend--commercial "product placement" in the commercial theatre! (courtesy ArtsJournal) This is something I really can't get that worked up over. I just don't see how dropping a line about a brand-name drink into Neil Simon's already sell-out book for Sweet Charity compromises anything. What else is a Broadway musical other than one big product placement?... Typical complaint, from the piece, addressing one eagerly expected Toronto try-out:

But relax. Mirvish's The Lord of the Rings will not feature a new
Frodofone from Fido, or a prominently displayed Birk's box to house Gollum's

Yeah, thank god. That would make such a musical ridiculous.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I disagree. This is AWFUL. Theatre is one of the few sacred spaces left in which to see a dramatic narrative. TV has commercials (even pay cable, advertising itself) and movies have commercials before the previews now. The message to audiences is that first and foremost they are seen as consumers to be marketed to, and that the dramatic narrative is the lure to allow this marketing to happen.

The theatre has no commercials or advertisements built into its apparatus, allowing audiences to think of themselves not as consumers but as human beings. But bizarrely hearing inappropriate name brands in the midst of yes, even commercial musicals, will foster a further depersonalization that capitalism thrives on. It's a slippery slope and once capitalism smells blood, it traditionally goes for the kill. You seem so concerned about the death of the playwright -- I am surprised you can't link up this elision of reality with the further ascendance of consumerism revealed by product placement in the theatre.