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December 26, 2008
Tic, Tac, Dumb
I don’t spend a lot of time in the cinema itself, it’s all pay-per-view and downloaded crap these days, but I was with my parents and it was a choice between Atonement and... "Wait! What about ‘Juno’?" I happen to be a huge Michael Cera freak (clarkandmichael.com is mad hilarity), and so we went. And lo and behold on Tuesday the Oscars came out – albeit a strange award season considering the strike – and there is “Juno” up front and with top nods - including Ellen Page, a not-so-overnight star ("Hard Candy" scared the crap out of me)...

Okay, the film’s fabulous, deserving of the hype for a change. Finally there’s a director, young Jason Reitman, whose deft skill at creating coming AND serious turns, makes me sit up and go “I’ll tell everyone.”

I am honestly surprised how asleep at the wheel the Ferrero USA company is - makers of Orange Tic Tacs – considering the little gems are a main character in this flick, and not since “My Big Fat Greek TV Movie” and the Considine’s obsession with Windex, has a major American non-paid product placement been featured so “cool-y” in a major motion picture. Yet Ferrero (who also manufacturer that gross Nutella) have not done a thing to capitalize on Paul’s (Cera’s) nonstop fascination with the orange one-calorie treats. And yes, Ellen Page’s Juno actually uses those very words!

I remember a billion years ago (‘94) when Redford’s slow and pontificatory “Quiz Show” arrived on the scene and Geritol was featured as a sponsor on the scandalous show in name, it took six months and a few awards of its own before that aged brand did anything to make hay with their feature. Back then, social networking did not exist - not to mention that Geritol was behind a dark part of American TV history in the movie, so in fact it wasn’t a positive image-holder.

But heck, Ferrero has an opportunity to go for broke here with the one movie everyone is talking about that does not star Johnny Depp. It appears this European entity has its collective corporate arms folded, probably because “Juno” is about a 16-year-old pregnant kid — brilliant and mature— and they don’t want to be in the dialogue or debate about their treats supporting an unwed young Mommy.

A modern Dan Quayle/Murphy Brown conundrum, maybe. Or just stupid. I think it’s shortsighted. This is where making noise comes in handy. I can only hope that the Tic Tac makers somehow, somewhere, get their act together and create a colorful mini-site for “Juno” fans to share what’s orange about their lives — and create an old chat room for lovers of this fine Americana and modern talk of the town. I want to see a Tic Tac character that, like that dancing baby of yore, appears in the oddest places throughout our Wide Web world.

If not, they are going to have mud all over their face when, in a few months, a DVD will arrive on the Oscar-winning “Juno” and inside you’ll see a clever mini-doc on how Reitman and fellow Oscar nominee or winner Diablo Cody (whatta name) “chose the Orange Tic Tac,” which will be a wasted opportunity because at that stage we’ll have moved onto the next gimmick in our fast and fickle lives.

Service companies – take note. It’s a freaking Harvard Business School study in the future: Always use what’s handed you, especially if it’s colorful, like maybe orange.

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Richard Laermer is CEO of New York's RLM pr, representing, among others, e-Miles, Epic Advertising, Yodlee, Revolution Money, Group Commerce, Smith & Nephew, and HotChalk. He was host of TLC's cult program Taking Care of Business and speaks on trends and marketing for corporate groups. You can read Laermer on The Huffington Post and on the mischievous but all-too-necessary Bad Pitch Blog. For more like this, follow him on @laermer.

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