March 16, 2005

Another one from the Fun Zone. Here in Addis, in the daily newspapers, there's a company with a series of advertisements that goes, "Another one from ElectroCommercial". It's actually not a bad ad - I think ElectroCommercial is an Indian car importer. Overall, though, the quality of advertising here is pretty grim.

I was talking to my wife the other night about product placement or putting advertising into the scenes/settings of movies and cinema. "Seinfeld" was a shameless product placement show, with Jerry always grabbing for a box of Honeycomb or the episode that had a lot of dialogue about "Drakes Coffee Cakes". Seinfeld differed from other programming, however, in that it openly recognized that it was selling placement on its shows to companies. More often, product placement is a subtle blend between useful props and advertising. On its effectiveness, the jury is still out, but it's a real part of U.S. media. (My favorite example is in the movie "Matrix" when Keanu Reeves is outside on the edge of the skyscraper. He drops his mobile phone and as it begins its downward flight, there's a brief moment where you get a clear glimpse of "Nokia" written across the phone).

Anyway, I was telling my wife about this concept, when onto the screen came some unknown serial drama. A man was on the screen, sitting in a cafe, drinking a beer and contemplating about some hardship in his life (I think it was a woman). He was having Bedele Beer, one of the local brews. I know it was Bedele because the camera zoomed in on the beer. As if that wasn't enough, the actor actually turned the beer so that the label was fully facing the camera. Then, to offer a final proof, a second beer was brought out, this time a Bedele Special. Although the label placement wasn't as conspicuous, you had a clear glimpse of the label; that's for sure.

Now, I may be overly suspicious, just imagining things, a conspiracy theorist, but I'm pretty sure that was deliberate. I started telling my wife that Ethiopia, in a lot of ways, copies the West. What's considered a good idea in some circles like product placement is bound to be borrowed and used here. It's the execution that is sometimes lacking. It might be effective for a local, unsaturated media constituency, but for a savvy American television viewer like me, it's enough to generate a chuckle. 'Nough said.

Things are moving forward in the business world. Seems like I'm getting clear answers. For now, to get a tax exemption on the equipment I'm importing, I have to officially register as a business. Investor is not enough. We took care of most of this this morning, spending an hour or so at the neighborhood administration offices seeking sole-proprietorship status. Overall, this is a good thing, though it means our effective date will start once the license is issued, bringing another level of bureaucracy/scrutiny into our work. All in all, should be good.

Well, I'm off for a lunch break. Ciao.


Blogger tsegasaurus said...

quote “He was having Bedele Beer, one of the local brews”

have you also noticed that he was drinking the beer out of a wine glass, I would imagine beadle as a “big” brewery would make the effort to have at least thee proper vessel if it were deliberate. I think this was purely the actor’s personal choice which ended up being unintentional product placement.

p.s. ‘like the conclusion that the source of his hardship is woman related…

5:36 PM  

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