Monday, June 12, 2006

The Alchemy of Media Marketing

Getting that advertising out there is vital in biz, but how bizarre for the NYTimes web report this morning on the case of rape at Duke to have a huge banner ad for Victoria's Secret? I'll put the link in though I'm sure the ads change thru the day to increase ad opportunities and fees.

I know marketing is an often strange and marvelous world, sometimes hidden and subtle and sometimes as obvious as holding a rabid wolverine in your hands. The above instance is more of a hybrid, a designer rabid wolverine.

I noticed the other day that a new DVD edition of Monty Python's classic comedy "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" included two free passes to see the "DaVinci Code" movie. I suppose Columbia, which distributes both movies, have a file of Holy Grail-themed products. But alongside the Python DVD was an edition of "The Mark of Zorro" also with DaVinci tickets.

Discerning the logic and logistics of marketing have their own alchemical symbiosis, mystical and unknowable to non-practitioners, another cipher of meanings to fill your day, like some Sodoku puzzle of business.

Director John Waters noted some years back how the "cult" entertainments have been mainstreamed and alchemical mysteries are as good an explanation as any to mark the move of a longtime cult classic like Python's "Grail" moving from midnight movie to Broadway musical - turning lead into gold is primary for alchemy.

This morning's Washington Post had an article about product placement in books, citing an instance of a major change in a book for teen girls because Cover Girl made a deal with the publisher - not to pay them but to feature the book on a Cover Girl website. Proctor and Gamble owns Cover Girl and again, marketing is important for biz.

The story noted that award-winning novelist Fay Weldon was "commissioned" by Italian jewelry company Bulgari to write an entire book - "The Bulgari Connection" was the cunning name of that tome.

The marketing team that hit upon the Cover Girl/teen novel alchemical connections were the novel's authors, who helped design the vast web-based marketing mystery campaign behind the movie "A.I.", which was certainly one of the first successful web marketing efforts where so-called "viral marketing" was imprinted on the business world.

Our minds constantly yearn to find connections and the alchemical marketing wizards know this and exploit it, sometimes for gold and sometimes you just get the rabid wolverine.

I can play in the alchemical crucible too here on this internets dealie - if I include popular tag words from Technorati or Yahoo! I get more traffic, and the same goes for all kinds of words. Sex, hot sex, or free sex will bring readers. I can try this phrase - "Knitting Knowledge: The Basics of Expert Crafts". That too will bring certain readers.

Yeah, that's fun and easy.

Readers and Web-walkers could be seen as potential customers cruising the alchemy magic shop, and I am enough of a shameless self-promoter that even my blog's title exploits my real name and the elixir of the world, coffee. Make that Free Trade Coffee.

Dang - I gotta go - rabid wolverine on the loose! It'll smash my Ikea furniture I'm selling on eBay to finance my Net-Nuetrality petition, or pee on my Ann Coulter book collection, which I'm offering free to Christian Republicans to fight the Democrats Who Hate America.


  1. You want to talk about cult becoming mainstream? John Travolta is starring as Edna Turnblad in the new Hairspray movie.


  2. he's gonna be JR Ewing too isn't he?

    i need to find a copy of John Waters comments about how all the weird and offbeat has been mainstreamed and drained of irony. brilliant words.

    Colbert - that man you heart - has been one of the few, along with Jon Stewart, who has brought Irony back to some life.

  3. I don't think this is the exact quote you're looking for, but it does express the same idea. I found it at PopCult Magazine.

    "There are no taboos left in movies," despairs Waters. "Hardcore pornography ended exploitation films because, basically, exploitation films were about how that was the one thing you couldn't do. Once you could do that, there were no taboos. I mean, the studios make movies today that would've been exploitation movies 20 years ago, only now they give them big budgets and take all the fun out of them.

    "But," he says, drawing a hopeful breath, "there will be new trash."

  4. John Walter books, plus seeing him live (did at The Daisy in Memphis) is compelling. He really understands underground pop culture. He became pop culture and I think it bummed him out.

  5. Oddly now as I think on it, Waters would have made a rape victim in one of his movies turn underwear model.

    I think the fame did, as John Updike once said, become a mask that eats the face.

    Concepts like "viral marketing", product placement, etc creates a mythological narrative centered on emptiness and imaginary design, which obviously eliminates any value to cultural life. A brilliant example of mindless brandname consumerism is Romero's "Dawn of the Dead." It was interesting how the remake focused on the realization of the characters that they had to get out of the Mall to survive, whereas in the original, all characters, even the zombies, refused to leave.

    Hope is there in both movies, but more so in the remake, where I saw characters deciding material trappings were just traps.

  6. Speaking of Romero's Dead, have you read From "Night" to "Day": Nihilism and the Walking Dead? Check it out. It will blow your mind, man.

    I see less hope in the remake. Its ending (during the credits) is ambiguous, but pretty grave (Ha!), whereas in the original, they fly away in the helicopter and that's it.

    Though the characters in the remake understand more quickly than those in the original that material possessions are worthless now that the Zombie Apocalypse has come upon them, they still end up on a zombie-infested island with no gas in their boat.

  7. that's not a great place to be, no doubt, but i saw that ending as more a producer's effort to insure a sequel - yep, marketing again. but indeed, now the characters are trapped as products in a constant franchise demand of characters.

    i guess some might think we're goop-brained to debate the meanings of zombie movies, but we ain't.

    movies and music and tv and etc still reflect culture.

    marketing is the zombie that eats culture, but all those movies etc need marketing too. a recent science report noted how symbiotic our human lives our with bacterias - we'd die without it - so we're biological oddities dependent on other biological life to survive.

    a phrase like bio-marketing is not sci-fi. remember when IBM made a press release they had lined up bacteria molecules to form the letters IBM?