It would seem that if you’ve seen one summer blockbuster, you’ve seen them all.
It seems like every holiday season, the number of made-for-TV Christmas movies increase exponentially. You might think they would have run out of Christmas themed story lines by now, but then you’d be underestimating the creativity of production execs in this most marketable time of the year. Call me cynical, but I’ve reached my saturation point. If I’ve seen one yuletide tale, I’ve seen them all—a dull parade of re-worked, updated, variations of every Christmas movie ever made.
So why watch rehashed holiday fare that’s as stale as Aunt Mable’s holiday pound cake, when you can be creating your own Christmas season entertainment? And I’ve made it easy for you to get started with this all-purpose do-it-yourself story template. So fire up your word processor and begin writing the next undistinguished story complete with forgettable characters, old clichés, and unimaginative plots that are as predictable as the Winter Solstice.
by Chris Shugart
I’m happy to inform you that the Aflac duck is back, so all is right with the world once again. Ever since comedian Gilbert Gottfried was fired for making insensitive jokes about the Japan tsunami disaster on his Twitter page, Aflac had been on a recruiting mission for a new spokesduck. It would appear they’ve found him. (see the video)
Shortly after Gottfried was fired, the blogosphere reacted. There was a considerable backlash of criticism that Aflac had overreacted, had no sense of humor, and that Gilbert Gottfried’s tsunami jokes were at worst, a minor infraction of bad taste. Certainly nothing so objectionable that it should get someone fired.
Fortunately for this duck-endorsed insurance company, sensible men prevailed. Rather than bend to the whims of the internet peanut gallery, Aflac did the only thing an established and publicly prominent business could do. They fired the guy. The only thing that surprised me was Gottfried’s reaction. He didn’t seem to see it coming. Anyone with any understanding of corporate culture knew it was inevitable.
And thus the Aflac duck saga reminds us that multi-billion dollar companies are not here to provide online spectators with their daily yucks. And if you’re a company spokesperson, it would be best to remember that you represent a professional organization whose first responsibility is to their customers and shareholders. They care little about your Twitter followers your Facebook “likes” or the number of views on your YouTube page. Social media can be entertaining, even informative. But business is still business.
by Chris Shugart
If there’s such a thing as a Truth in Advertising Award, I nominate the Dead Space 2 commercial that bluntly declares that your mom will hate it. The ad shows distraught, disgruntled, and disgusted mothers expressing their objections to the horror shooter game that involves, among other things, dismembering reanimated human corpses called Necromorphs.
The TV commercial is more than just a gimmick. The moms featured in the ad are from a focus group of honest to goodness real moms each reacting to the virtual video carnage. In fact game developer/distributor Visceral Games proudly declares, “Over 200 moms were subjected to some of the most disturbing footage in video game history.”
A video game that claims to upset disapproving mothers is no idle boast. The Entertainment Software Rating Board has rated the game “M” which means it has “content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older.” The rating also suggests that such games in this category “may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.”
Now I’m not necessarily convinced that such marketing candor will be ultimately successful, but Visceral Games certainly thinks so. They’re sponsoring a Your Mom Hates This Sweepstakes that asks players to record their own moms’ reaction and post it on Twitter to win a Play Station 3. One tweet reports that their mom threw up after viewing the gory mayhem. If nothing else, I guess you could say that the Dead Space 2 promotion has added a new dimension to the idea of “going viral.”
It’s hardly the first time an advertiser has taken a negative and turned it into a positive. And the strategy here is neither mysterious nor complicated. It’s a simple message that’s resonated with adolescents since the beginning of civilization: If your mom hates it, it must be cool.