Mindy Newell: Man Of $teel
In 1978, we were enticed to go see Superman this way:
- You will believe a man could fly.
In 2013, we have been enticed to go see Man Of Steel like this:
- He can walk through fire.
- He can melt glaciers with his eyes.
- He can rip through metal with his bare hands.
- So, how does the Man of Steel shave?
- Apparently with a Gillette razor.
- Fly in for Sears Memorial Day Mattress Spectacular and get up to 60% off plus an extra 10% off mattresses over $999.
- Plus special financing.
- Plus free delivery and haul-away.
- This is something super.
- This is Sears.
Does Superman prefer Sealy, Simmons, Serta, Stearns & Foster, Tempur-Pedic, or Sears’s own Sears-O-Pedic? And what size mattress – twin, full, queen, king, or California king?
According to a June 3rd article in Advertising Age by Maureen Morrison, Man Of Steel had already made $160 million even before it even opened in cinemas around the world. The British newspaper The Independent upped that ante, reporting on June 10th that Man Of Steel had snared $170 million in product placement and advertising before it opened on June 14th.
Product placement isn’t new. In the “director’s cut” of Superman, there is a scene just before Martha Kent sees Clark out in the wheat field of the farm that didn’t make it into the theatrical version – and by the way, any theories on just how long it was between Jonathan’s death and Clark getting the call from the green crystal? At the funeral Martha’s hair is grey, but on the day Clark leaves for the “North,” her hair, as Clark later describes it to Lois, is “silver-white.” Anyway, in the aforementioned scene we watch as Martha does her morning routing, yelling at Clark to “get up, breakfast!” and placing a box of Cheerios on the kitchen table. And later in the film, Superman hurdles Zod into the Coca-Cola sign in Times Square – well, Metropolis’s version of Times Square – and while attempting to save the passengers on a bus thrown by the super-villains, Superman crushes a Marlboro delivery truck (Cigarette advertising? How retro!)
But these placements were subtle, and actually added to the reality – the first voice we hear in the 1978 Superman is Marlon Brando’s “This is no fantasy.” – of the film, aiding our suspension of disbelief.
But the amount of “product” associated with the newest film is really stunning. According to Morrison’s article, “there are more than 100 global promotional partners” attached to Man Of Steel. Some of them, in addition to the Sears Roebuck Company and Gillette, are:
- Warby-Parker Shades, where you can buy a pair of Clark Kent eyeglasses
- Chrysler, which is offering two different “Superman” S-class cars
- Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr, where you can eat a “Super Bacon Cheeseburger”
- United States Army National Guard, which is using Man Of Steel as an enlistment tool
- Under Armor
To borrow from another DC iconic hero:
Holy marketing, Batman!!!!!
• • • • •
A confession. I did go to Gillette’s YouTube site to watch four videos entitled “How Does the Man of Steel Shave?” Bill Nye the Science Guy, Kevin Smith, Mayim Bialik – a PhD. in neuroscience? Really? – and Mythbusters’ Andy and Jamie offer their theories on how Kal-el goes from heavily bearded in the beginning of the film to smooth-shaven by the time he’s fighting Zod. And I must also confess that the vids are fun and entertaining. The four hypotheses are: (1) LHC Worm Hole Theory; (2) Materials Science Theory; (3) Follicle Denaturation Theory; and (4) Baby Rocket Theory.
I leave it to you to match up the theories with their progenitors.
TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten
TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis
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