March 20, 2006

You Can't Buy This Kind Of Publicity

wrecked_cayenne.jpgWhen I saw The Sopranos last week, and Tony's cruising around in an Escalade, and Carmela can't shut up about her new car ["It's a Cayenne. Like the pepper!"], I thought it was perfect: who else but a murderous New Jersey mook and his relatively-goodhearted-but-hopelessly tacky moll would drive these rigs?

When Dan Neil agreed ["If you don't think their characters are defined by these vehicle choices, think again."], I knew I was right.

But then I read Jon Fine's BusinessWeek lamentation on the encroachment of product mentions into the Sopranos dialogue, apparently in exchange for free cars. In other words, the car makers are actually paying for inclusion somehow in the show. Suddenly, I realize I've had this marketing jiu jitsu all wrong. [Deadpan with me: "I going to learn. Jiu jitsu?"]

Auto makers of the world, now's your chance: Give me your pointlessly large autos, and I will criticize and make fun of them and associate them with unsavory characters. Before I ebay them. Operators are standing by. [image:]

Related: Trading the Hummer for a Honda [nyt]


They don't typically "give" cars. They loan them.

I worked for aforementioned auto maker doing exactly that for several years.

The Escalade ran away with itself though. No one predicted how many music videos/tv shows/movies that beast would appear in when it was first launched. Who would believe Tony driving the third boom operator's 1996 Taurus though? He would drive an Escalade and the best way to get one is free from the manufacturer. Everyone wins.

[obviously, there's no one to really "give" it to who'd care. Even if the mfr DID give a car to a prod. co, what's the benefit? $100k? $90k tax deduction if you auctioned them off for charity after production wrapped? That's piddly enough, but the net cost/consideration to HBO is even lower if they're loaned. What would it've cost HBO to just lease those rigs? Which is why Fine's complaint about product placement sounded odd: HBO's not getting anything, and the brands aren't paying anything. -ed.]

You want product mentions?

What about Electronic Arts announcing that McDonald's and Intel would be featured in The Sims Online, allowing virtual characters to scarf down brand-name burgers while playing with their Pentium-powered computers.


The Sopranos has always had painfully obvious product placement. Not that I mind enought to quit watching!

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