MAD DOG: Endorse This, Mr. Bond
It's official now -- the world is one big commercial venture. If you had any doubts about it before, the new James Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies, should eliminate them once and for all. Or the ads will, anyway.In case you've been too busy counting the days until El Nino arrives to watch TV, read a magazine, or look at any billboards, Pierce Brosnan, the new 007, is shilling for virtually every product you see in the movie. Among other things he's flashing that Bondian smile for BMW, Heineken, VISA, Smirnoff, Ericcson cellular phones, Omega watches, and even L'Oreal cosmetics. If he had his way you'd be drinking and driving while placing a credit card order for hair care products on your cell phone. While looking at your watch, of course.This isn't anything new, though it's probably the most blatant case. Product placement in movies has been going on since before Frankenstein's neck bolts came to you courtesy of Sears Craftsman Tools. The difference is that normally the actors don't hawk the product outside of the movie. I don't remember seeing Marlon Brando pitching butter after Last Tango in Paris. Or Nicholas Cage endorsing Wild Turkey when Leaving Las Vegas was released. Maybe it's just because no one thought of it, but why didn't Ewan McGregor from Trainspotting do a testimonial for B&D syringes? And Neve Campbell of Scream 2 entice you to buy Ginzu knives?It used to be that product endorsement was the domain of athletes and movie stars, but now even Mikhail Gorbechev has filmed a commercial for Pizza Hut. This is a little more understandable since we know how tentative the Russian economy is these days. That's why it you shouldn't be surprised to see the Mir astronauts doing a commercial for Superglue. Or duct tape. Or Prudential accident insurance.In England, product endorsement has a long and noble history. For years a wide assortment of products have carried a regal looking emblem with the words "By appointment to her Majesty the Queen". What this means is, a tractor-trailer filled with Robert's Golden Shred Marmalade backs up to Buckingham Palace every Tuesday and unloads enough royal jelly to make Andrew and Fergie consider getting back together. At least for a night. In return, the company is allowed to reproduce that charming crest on the label of their product so thousands of her Majesty's loyal followers will flock to the stores and demand that they too be allowed to wear frumpy clothes and wave without ever moving their fingers.In this country we go about it a little differently. Here money changes hands. For a slight fee -- pick a number from one to ten and put lots of zeros behind it -- your product can be the "Official [fill in the blank] of the [fill in the blank]". The New York Marathon has an official pasta, bagel, athlete's foot cream, and breathing device (and they're not your lungs, either). And Mars, Miller, and Maidenform have already registered as the Official Chocolate, Beer, and Undergarment of the Millennium.Sponsorships in sports is really out of hand. There's the Poulan/Weed Eater Independence Bowl, the St. Jude Liberty Bowl, and my favorite, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Any day now they'll announce that the two lowest ranked college teams will compete in the Ty-D-Bowl Toilet Bowl.Why not expand this concept from the private sector to the federal government (commonly known as the tax sector)? They're always looking for money. Usually yours and mine. Corporate sponsorship could solve this problem by creating a whole new source of revenue. Depends could be the Official Incontinence Diaper of Medicare, which pisses our money away anyway. Band-Aids could be the Official Cover-up of any sitting President. The Bosnian War could be brought to you by Hefty Trash and Body Bags. And the Pentagon could be sponsored by Brasso. In fact, there's no reason soldiers' uniforms and armored tanks couldn't be covered with sponsor's patches just like a race car driver's. In camouflage, of course.Actually, some of this has been tried. NASA offered to sell ads on the side of their rockets but there weren't any takers. This may be because it's hard to get repeat viewings of a tubular billboard that spends the rest of its life hurtling past Jupiter at speeds even greater than double-semis on the interstate. But NASA shouldn't be discouraged, they just haven't marketed themselves right."We're at 'T' minus twenty Bulova seconds and counting ... Ten, nine, eight Stove Top Stuffing seconds to liftoff ... four, three, there's a two-for-one sale at Wal-Mart this week, ignition.""Roger Houston, we have AC Delco ignition.""It's a perfect Post-It Note liftoff, Challenger.""We're ready to separate, Houston.""This separation is brought to you by Jacoby and Meyers personal injury and divorce attorneys.""Separation is complete, Houston, we're attaining maximum Xanax orbit."So what would this launching of a multi-gazillion dollar space shuttle actually cost the United States government? Nothing. In fact, it would probably earn enough money to buy every man, woman and child an Oscar Mayer hot dog, the Official Weenie of the White House, Al Gore notwithstanding.Which brings us to the real point of all this -- getting sponsorship for me. The way I see it either the Pentium or Doritos could be my official chip. Velveeta or an Elvis impersonator could be my official cheese. And Merriam-Webster and my third grade teacher could battle it out over being my official reference. My bank account is open for further suggestions.