Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Product Placement

Last night, on the way home from a fun-but-air-conditionerless party, the Citizen and I stopped into a bodega to get some water. Among the Evians and Dasanis, one particular bottle stood out. It had a lovely flask shape, like so:

Examining this artifact more closely, we found a small blurb on the back informing us that our new friend Fred had “a blackbelt in hanging out.” As the Citizen pointed out, this is sort of an exhausting concept. You have to work really hard to get a blackbelt. You shouldn’t have to work hard at hanging out. Also: do we really want to hang out with our bottles of water? Aren’t bottles of water for…holding water? (Which, I have to say, Fred does particularly well.)

The bottle invited us to visit the Fredspot, so I stopped by this morning. It turned out to be a “modern trendzine,” not unlike Thrillist or Daily Candy. The current issue doesn’t even mention water anywhere; it’s just about boy things like burgers and sets of brothers who start bands (including, bizarrely, the Ramones). Go back to the inaugural issue, though, and you’ll see that Fred is a bottle of water who likes to take the F train. He also has a Myspace profile, though it’s not populated by too many friends.

If I were a marketing expert, I’d give this whole effort an E for “too much effort” (but an A for “nice try.”) We cosmopolitan consumers are a superficial lot, Fred. We’re not going to judge you by your trendzine or your MySpace profile or your hanging-out skills. We just want you to be pretty — which you totally are. Isn’t that enough?

Also, Fred makes me think of Ted Airlines, the United spin-off that wants to be your bro:

I went to high school with a Ted, a cute boy who dated one of my friends. For Senior Prank ’99, we attempted to park his sea-green convertible in the atrium of the computer lab building. The car turned out to be an inch too wide for the doorway, but Ted spent an hour trying to coax it through anyway, muttering, “It’ll compress. It’ll totally compress.” I liked Ted a lot, but I don’t want him to fly me across the country while plying me with warm cookies and “My Name is Earl” re-runs.

And don’t even get me started on Ed2010. We all know who the real Ed is around here, and it’s not that guy.


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