Monday, May 23, 2005

The minute you walked in the joint, I could see you were a man of distinction, a real big spender

Product placement, long a shameless part of feature films, hit Broadway: NEW YORK (Adage.com) -- As part of a product placement campaign in Broadway's Sweet Charity, playwright Neil Simon approved a script change to promote Gran Centenario tequila, according to the deal makers. Jose Cuervo's tequila has been woven into the script, the stage sets and the advertising and promotion for 'Sweet Charity.' [...] To Mr. Weissler, having products placed or mentioned in his shows is not a new concept. “There’s nothing different here than in sports or movies where marketers co-promote a film,” he said. But he sets limits on what he’ll do to marry art and commerce. “We never, ever distress a script." With this Gran Centenario example, the producers and playwright replaced a line, “I’ll have a double scotch on the rocks” with a mention of the premium tequila. "We didn’t bastardize the script, and [playwright Neil Simon] OKed the change," Mr. Weissler said. “We always pass sponsors by authors.” In addition to having the Gran Centenario mention written into the script, the tequila’s logos are integrated into the show’s set in one scene, and the product has been the drink of choice at Gran Centenario-sponsored parties thrown during the pre-Broadway shows as well as its New York opening, all attended by the cast, their friends and a select group of invitees. Specialty cocktails featuring Gran Centenario created by well-known bartender Dale deGroff are featured at those fests as well as in the Al Hirschfeld Theatre where Sweet Charity plays and at nearby bars. I don't think I have a problem with that. Even if Simon had amended the script to include "Because Bacardi makes the night come alive - with freshness!"-style authentic corporate whorishness, I'm sure it would be taken as self-deprecating irony. That's no less effective at profile-raising, I'm sure; ironic po-mo hipsters drink too. But, to be fair, Sweet Charity still comes second, even during this theatrical season. After all, it's not the show with a registered trademark product placement in the very title... (Via Blogway Baby.)

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