In case you don’t know what promotion marketing is, it’s essentially co-marketing, where two companies or brands work together to promote an event, offer, sweepstakes, etc. It’s what I do for a living at a movie studio that shall remain unnamed. Sometimes it’s fun – you get to work on advertising campaigns that include TV spots, which I like. But largely, what we do is put animated characters’ faces on other companies’ products — like a box of cereal or a toy in a kids meal at a fast food restaurant — with the assumption that it 1) increases awareness of and excitement around our movie and 2) helps the other companies’ products sell better. So a win-win, right?! Well, there have been tons of studies over the past few years about childhood obesity and the link to licensed characters shilling food. There was even a segment on Dateline a couple of years ago in which they let kids pick what foods they wanted to eat, and they inevitably chose the food boxes with characters on them. And of course, the food featuring characters was fatty, sugary and bad for you. They even underscored the point by putting a character sticker on a rock and asking a little girl if she wanted to eat the rock or a banana….and she chose the rock.
Of course, you don’t always need to have these promotions with food companies, but when you work solely with animated kiddie fare, the insurance and car companies aren’t exactly lining up to work with you. Which leads us to back peddle a lot on the obesity issue and take ridiculous public stances that make it seem like we’re stupid, heartless and hate children. I shouldn’t take it all so seriously, and a lot of times I really don’t. But every now and then it gets me down and I wonder if I wouldn’t be better off doing something more cause-worthy with my time. But then, that would likely not pay the bills, which leaves me in a bit of a pickle.
The reason this is all top of mind for me is because of an article I read over the weekend featuring the top 5 fake Facebook pages. They were for Obama, Hitler, Steve Jobs, God, and Satan. Among Satan’s fan links was “Promotional Marketing.” This did not make me feel any better about what I do.