Tuesday, September 18, 2012

PRAGMATICS: Too Culturally Relevant?

As a producer, you want to stay culturally relevant with the work you're producing. But maybe there's such a thing as being too culturally relevant? At least when it comes to marketing.

Above is a photo on the Occupy Wall Street. The police are standing next to an ad for "Byzantium Security", which has that reference to the 1% "that matters," clearly intended as being provocative. If you go to the website, you see that this actually is a website.

Except in the bottom right hand corner, you see a "Copyright Cinemax" information, which links you to info about the tv show that this is promoting.

And you know, if Occupy Wall Street hadn't come back to lower Manhattan, I'm sure this would have just been a tongue-in-cheek satire and possibly effective (I have questions about whether ads that in no way look like ads for the things they are promoting are actually effective).

On the right hand side there's a range of reactions, like "Wow it's crazy that this movie hit a nerve like this!" and "THIS IS PHOTOSHOPPED OBVIOUSLY" and "No guys, it's real"!

But when I actually went and looked up what the TV show Hunted is, all I came away with was... is this it? Really? Because all it is is a pretty standard futuristic spy adventure. This ad just sets up the antagonist. The show (at least from the info I'm reading about it) doesn't seem to be any examination of class or privilege the way that the framing above seems to strongly imply.

So the question is -- as a producer, are you doing your show a disservice if you tap too strongly into the zeitgeist?

1 comment:

Steve C said...

Hey Guy

Wanted to leave a short response to your thoughtful post, as I was part of the team that created this work for Cinemax (I work for an external vendor).

The show is actually a lot more than a "standard futuristic spy adventure" - it's set in the real world of corporate espionage, and the protagonist finds herself stuck in a conspiracy that involves large corporations who seemingly run governments, and the private security services they employ to do their dirty work. It plays on themes of who is in control, right and wrong, how corporate interests are adversely affecting social economics, etc.

So while we can debate whether or not that's fodder for prime time entertainment, and whether or not this kind of stealth advertising is effective or not, I would have to say that in this case, the marketing not only taps directly into the show themes, but that the show endeavors to highlight some of the concerns about corporate negligence that the OWS protesters bring to the fore.