September 28, 2008

Advertising Helps Me Decide!

How can a country retain its unique culture in the face of American imports? Is the best course to stop imports from reaching the marketplace, or to make homegrown products that can act as replacements?

Dunno. But I do know that Islam for Today is touting Dara and Sara dolls as “Iran’s Islamic alternative to Ken and Barbie.” The site quotes toy seller Masoumeh Rahimi, who sees the danger of girls playing with Barbie and eventually rejecting Iranian values. She said:
"I think every Barbie doll is more harmful than an American missile."
I guess that makes the Bratz some sort of Doomsday Devices.

Dara and Sara were developed by an government agency known as the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults. Since the agency is also in charge of marketing the dolls, it might consider using the ad strategy known as Organic Product Integration (OPI).

No more painfully obvious "product placement." With OPI, instead of just SHOWING a product in a TV show or movie, the product instead becomes an integral and “natural” part OF the show. (I’m all for integration! And organic things are so... natural.)

So now, products aren’t just products anymore. As Nela Ulabi’s NPR story makes clear, now the product is almost a character. Thus, the sponsors of a reality show make sure that contestants will be use their cars/drinks/phones while competing. And those products being discussed by the ad execs on Mad Men? They're not there by accident.

So now ads are always lurking in the background. You can't TiVo them out of the program... they ARE the program! How can American culture survive this onslaught of marketing? Robert Weissman of the group Commercial Alert suggests TV shows be required to warn viewers when OPI is occurring.

But I’ve got a simpler idea: Import more Dara and Tara dolls into the US. The rest will take care of itself.

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