Advertising – the ubiquitous bane of our corporate world – has continued its relentless creep through American culture and has now found its way onto the stage. Yes, having conquered movie theaters, ads have entered the sanctum of the live theater. I don’t mean the quiet printed ads in the playbill booklet, or the silent corporate logos that emblazon so many theaters these days. Rather, I mean the intrusive, spoken ad that demands your attention.
Enjoying Hightower? How about a weekly email that gives you the full scoop?
This latest advance of ad creep made its debut on May 23rd at 7:55pm at the Orpheum Theater in New York City, just prior to the evening’s performance of – appropriately enough – “Stomp.” The advertisement itself was a three-minute live performance promoting a British tourist outfit called Visit London. It featured an actress from the “ER” television show and had an onstage couple rhapsodically discussing various tourist attractions. The ad concluded with an offstage voice delivering the punchline: “Whatever you like doing, you’ll love doing it in London.”
An official representing the company that created this intrusive stomping on theater decorum was ecstatic about bringing ads to this new venue: “They’re a captive audience,” he crowed about the show’s attendees. “They can’t switch channels or change over or walk out once the thing has started.” Ah, yes, that’s the good ol’ “gotcha” attitude of corporate commercialism!
With this breakthrough, you know it wont be long before corporate advertisers match the theater presentation with their products. Why wouldn’t “Stomp,” for example, be a perfect fit for Nike, or maybe even Desenex, the athletes foot preparation?
This is Jim Hightower saying… The creep goes on! Look for ads coming soon to your church – maybe holy water branded by Coca-Cola, or the sacrament itself sponsored by McDonald’s. Truly, nothing is sacred.
“It Had to Happen (or Did It?): Ads at the Theater,” The New York Times, May 24, 2006.