A bottle of Magners Mr Bond?

An Aston Martin DB5 as seen in Goldfinger. Exp...

An Aston Martin DB5 as seen in Goldfinger. Expensive items are often part of a glamorous lifestyle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The world has changed. Traditional business models which rely on advertising to keep them afloat have to evolve or die. When you could count the number of TV channels on Mickey Mouse’s left hand, it made sense for companies to pay lots of money to ply their goods over the airwaves. After all, you were guaranteed a decent share of viewers.

Nowadays, with satellite and cable TV, the audience is more fragmented. Not only that, but many households can now record their programs and watch them later, zipping past the adverts in the process. There are internet services available through which programs can be viewed on demand from most of the major channels. Companies like Netflix and Love Film carry a huge catalogue of advert free content available on demand. A growing number of people are not watching broadcast material at all.

To counter this, advertisers have turned to techniques like product placement. If you can persuade a film producer to feature your products, the viewer gets the subliminal message that he or she will be a bit more like the hero if they use a particular brand. I don’t have a problem with the technique per se, providing it’s subtly done and fits in with the overall film.

In the books, James Bond drove a Bentley. In the transition to screen, his steed of choice is an Aston Martin. I’m OK with that. I can understand that someone who likes Bentleys might also like Aston Martins. When I see him jump into a BMW, it stretches my belief. Would the quintessentially British spy really choose a Teutonic behemoth like a 7 series? When they turn Bond into a lager swilling Mondeo driver, something in my head says “hold on a minute…”

Today I learned that advertisers are experimenting with a new method of product placement. In post production, they digitally splice in the footage of the product they are trying to promote. Maybe they change an advertising hoarding in the background to reflect something suitable to the local audience or maybe they place a can of soft drink prominently on a table in the foreground. Because it is done after the fact, the film could be customised for different audiences.

I’m not sure I like this idea. It might mean that you never see the same film twice. The first time you watch the classic Ice Cold in Alex, you will see a very thirsty John Mills sink a Carlsberg. The next time you see it, he might be drinking a bottle of WKD Blue. Can we really trust the advertisers to splice in content that matches the film?


Kicked out of the Disneyland bar


Disney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not a fan of Walt Disney. Despite this, Julie keeps threatening to take me to Disneyland with our nephews and nieces. The thing is, I’ve already been to both Disneyland and Disneyworld. It seems bizarre to me that companies select these as conference venues. Techy nerds and Businessmen are hardly the demographic that Walt had in mind. I’m sure there are people who are big fans of these temples to the great Mouse God who go again and again, but there wasn’t much there that appealed to me.

I once saw a documentary about how they train people for a life in the service of the largest media conglomerate in the world. Apparently, they even teach their employees how to smile. Either the receptionist who served me was yet to go on the course or she had forgotten how to do it. I was tired. I’d been travelling for nigh on 18 hours and I really wanted check in to be smooth. I gave her my reservation number which she couldn’t find on the computer. As far as she was concerned, that was that. It took some stamping of my feet and some holding of breath before she gave me a room. To be fair, the room was amazing with more beds than we had in our house at the time.

Whilst we’re looking at the bright side, breakfast was excellent. I loved the spicy house potatoes and the service was superb. I happily tucked into my breakfast whilst reading the complimentary newspaper. I was in a world of my own, so it took a while to notice something moving around in my peripheral vision. There was something dark bobbing around trying to catch my attention. I slowly looked up and came face to face with Goofy. His nose was inches from mine and he gave his trademark guffaw. I told him to go and find some kids.

I went out for a walk. The pretty pastel pathways and the twee music playing from just about everywhere got on my nerves. In the middle of the complex was the bar. In the middle of the bar was my boss. We sat together in the sunshine and had a beer whilst discussing the conference so far. It wasn’t long before some other delegates sat at a nearby table. After a short delay, they waved us over to join them. As the night went on, the conversation became more and more lively. Suddenly two of the girls decided to kiss each other. My boss turned to me and said “I’ll have some of that” and joined in. The rest of us looked on in shock at the three-way kiss.

It was certainly an icebreaker but it didn’t last long. An enormous black man in full blue uniform arrived, only distinguishable from one of LAPD’s finest by the tiny set of Mickey Mouse ear epaulettes on each shoulder. He sounded like a very angry James Earl Jones and he made himself heard.

“Hey! This is not a sex show.” Then in a softer voice, laden with pride “This is Disneyland.”

He ejected us from the bar and we walked back to the hotel. My boss left the elevator first. One of the ladies decided she wanted to go with him. In the resultant tussle, they fell over, breaking his rib in the process. Not a great souvenir as his journey home was agonising.

One way or another, looks like one day, I might be savouring the delights of Disneyland once again. Let’s hope it’s less eventful next time.