Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Product Intergration: There is an Ad in my Entertainment

I've been planning on this post for a while. So, I ventured across the Internet - thinking my use f "integration" fit the topic better - and just as I'm about to link articles, there the word is. Seems everyone is using it and I knew nothing about it.

Now what am I going on about? Overdone product placement in programs, films, and written fiction. The easiest way to see this in action is to watch any recent episode of the show Eureka. It's hard to overlook lines such as: "I really like your new Subaru [model name here]."

Pretty much everything appearing in the show is a product. Basically, they use real products - not cans labeled "BEER," but commercially produced beer. They speak about it, place it in clear view, and then speak about it again.

Having a bit of experience in the advertising world from working with a magazine, I can tell you that there will probably only be 1 product of a given brand per show. This means if Subaru is advertising, then all other cars become generic. If Coke is advertising, then there are no other soft drinks with real names. And their mentioning must be placed within appropriate editorial - meaning, the have to write the "integration" into the show as content.

The NBC show 30 Rock does this as well, although they make fun of themselves for doing it as though to make it appear they are not really doing it. Sounds more confusing than it is.

It does seem that the FCC has responded. This quote comes from a Washington Post article:

FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin said product placements and integration into
story lines have increased as television viewers increasingly use recording
devices like TiVo and DVRs to fast forward through commercials. Currently,
agency's rules require television programmers to disclose sponsors who have
embedded products into shows. Those disclosures typically are done during the
credits at the end of the show, which fly by viewers in small script.

"We want to make sure consumers understand and are aware that they are
being advertised to," said Martin, who first pushed to clarify disclosure rules
last fall. "We ask how we should update our rules to reflect current trends in
the industry."

I'm not sure listing anything in the speed-of-light, crunched into a small box credits will help anyone realize a product is being promoted. But I suppose it is a start.

And yes, it is happening in fiction as well, but I won't list books titles - they are easy to find. What once was thought to be verisimilitude is now actual product placement.

What is more striking is that Nielsen is already tracking the product integration. Yes, these are the folks who track TV ratings, ringtone sales, book sales, and pretty much anything that needs tracking. I wonder if this means shows with low reception to product integration will be cancelled? Too many people watching and not enough buying.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Depths of the Ocean: More High Seas Cthulhu

It was my intention to post about product placement in television and fiction books - oh, and films, etc. But as other matters press upon me, I'll save that one for later in the week. Right now, I'd like to talk about stories set on the high seas.

For those who don't know, after my reading of a few million words for a previous anthology, I started to avoid sending open anthology calls around the Internet. In fact, some of my calls are still lurking in the pages of Writers Digest, which means I get submissions for books printed years ago.

To help slow the flow of submissions, I now make a cunning mention on my blog. Usually word gets around, but not quite as much as "major announcements."

And, as some people were not completely sure of what I was hinting at in the last three anthologies request, I'll be blunt this time. :) I'm looking for stories for a 2010 anthology.

What type of stories? They must be set on or darn close to the ocean or large body of water. The book is a sequel to High Seas Cthulhu.

Setting: Still an ocean or big body of water. Mostly modern, some historical is welcome.

Word Count: 5K (longer must be negotiated)

Payment: 5 cents/word first publication, 3 cents/word reprint.

Deadline: June 2010 - Although it could move up (never sure about these things)

Reference: If in doubt, read the existing book: High Seas Cthulhu. You might also consider visiting the link on my blog, where the authors of the last book wrote about how their stories came to be: High Seas Cthulhu: Below Decks

As for High Seas Cthulhu, it can be found in most books stores and online, ebay, game stores. Pretty much anywhere. I urge reviewing a copy to save yourself time by avoiding the repetition of tales from the first book.

How to submit? (Umm. I get plenty of email, and much of it is blocked by spam software. But let's try it this way. Submit to:

william@williamjoneswriter.com (Subject: High Seas 2 YOUR NAME).

The subject is very important because I'll use software to sort the submissions, and without High Seas 2, it'll likely get dumped into spam).


  • Deep Ones are easy to write about in this anthology, so only use them if you have a unique slant. Most everyone will submit Deep One tales and you want yours to stand out. Or better yet, avoid Deep One tales.

  • Edgy is good. Please avoid this opening: "Dear reader, you might think me insane for what I'm about to put to paper..." (I've read that story. :> ) Put a modern spin on the story/creature/character, and make it yours.

  • Dark is good. Mood, tone, and a feel of darkness works in this anthology, but know that many people will be going the same way, so play with the approach.
Lastly, Cthulhu: Nope, no Cthulhu unless requested. Next to Deep Ones, this big fellow is the most popular critter people write about for this type of anthology. We can only have so many Cthulhu awakens and destroys the world tales in the anthology. So to improve your chances, avoid using him. Or at least query me about it before you do.

Feel free to post questions here, as that way I can answer them and create a FAQ at the same time.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

MU Twitter Contest Over

First, let me apologize, I'm typing this from a moving car - and my display screen is very small. I'm on my way to the GenCon convention. Oh, and I'm not driving. :) Although I haven't mentioned it much, I just had a surgery last week, and as a result I must be a passenger (among other limitations). Still, I'll be at GenCon, and I'll be posting updates from the convention on my Twitter (@RudolphPearson) and from the account I use for Chaosium (@Ab_Chaosium).

But right now, I'm here to speak about the Miskatonic University Twitter contest. It ihas end, and it did very well. A little over 650 submissions in three days. Obviously, I can't include all of them, but I'll do my best to include as many as I can.

What I learned about Miskatonic University from the Twitter feeds is that there is an overwhelming worry about Deep Ones on the campus. Yes, the bulk of Tweets references Deep Ones in one fashion or the other - only 1 Tweet was used as an excuse for not finishing a homework assignment.

I also learned that while the bulk of the MU faculty are "normal," there are a handful that worry the students (usually strange nocturnal activities). And there are some professors who are concerned about the students, although not in an academic sense. More of a "don't want to be consumed by them" fashion.

Good rule of thumb: Stay out of the library and basement.

Perhaps the best news is that no economic crisis has reached MU. At least there were no complaints about tuition, salary, or funding for insane experiments. This latter part is great news for the "crazy theory" department.

Excluding an abundance of Deep Ones, the university campus - based on Twitter response - is one of the safest in the world. It seems many students have eldritch spells or artifacts to defend against prowling creatures and janitors.

All and all, the staff, faculty, and students appeared overworked - usually engaged in occult endeavors rather than academic. But perhaps the most over worked person, and risky occupation, belongs to the librarian. This is a university where avoiding the library is a good thing.

When I started the contest, I had no idea I'd learn so much from the statistics of the Twitter messages. It was great fun, and my thanks to all who participated.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

On Vampires

Have vampires in literature changed since Stoker's popular novel? That is to say, have vampires as symbols and/or metaphors changed over those centuries? My guess is that most would either answer "yes," or "metaphors?"

It has been argued by a few that Stoker created a creature of his time. A metaphor representing aristocracy ( The Count), and that metaphor was seen to also be a parasite - the landed/gentry living off the life energy (labor) of the common folk. Certainly the political and social atmosphere of the time viewed the aristocracy as a dying or dead social class. And that is part of the basis for such a reading.

Now, if we were to read the Stoker vampire in that fashion, it begs the question: How has it changed? Is it still tied to classism? Or has it become something different?

To assuage those who'd worry over Stoker's intent - meaning did or didn't he really see The Count as a metaphor for class - I'd say it doesn't matter what his intent was because so many people read it that way culturally that the vampire in many cases became such a metaphor. And, If he did intend it, then he's all the more insightful. But overall, the intent is no longer a part of the reading.

Today, and over a short few decades, we have seen the vampire re-emerge and change several times. The novels of vampires have become a sub-genre, which means they are a part of popular literature, and perhaps that popularity is tuned to or is the locus of some cultural element.

Certainly there are many types of vampires today, so there are many answers. I'd love to explore those. Maybe it would reveal something to us culturally and as a society.