These Foolish Things Remind Me of Diet Coke

  • Walt Disney Co. ((is)) soliciting paid product placements in a new film, "Mr. Destiny." Companies such as Campbell Soup Co., Nabisco Brands and Kraft General Foods Group are believed to have been contacted . . . The cost structure, as outlined in letters to marketers, is $20,000 for a visual, $40,000 for a brand name mention with the visual and $60,000 for an actor to use the product.

    -- Advertising Age

    Dear Sirs and Madams:

    We represent the playwright, producer and screenwriter William Shakespeare in the offering of prestigious product placements in his works. We feel, and Bill agrees, that an authentic Shakespeare play offers an unrivaled opportunity to showcase your product.

    Billy is currently working on a docudrama about the life of King Richard III. This one is sure to generate plenty of attention, since it adopts the controversial technique of using actors to re-create real-life news events. Early in the play, Richard hires two thugs to murder his brother, the Duke of Clarence. In the scene as written, the murderers declare their intention to stab Clarence and then "throw him in the malmsey-butt in the next room," malmsey being a local beverage.

    For $20,000, Bill is prepared to rewrite that line to read: "throw him in the super-jumbo cup of Diet Coke in the next room." For $40,000, Bill will move the scene to the next room and show the Duke actually being drowned in a large Diet Coke (logo prominently displayed). For $60,000, the murderers will also drink the Diet Coke and comment on its thirst-quenching qualities after their heavy labors.

    Another Shakespeare production, still in the planning stage, involves the rise and fall of a Scottish king and offers a variety of rich product- placement opportunities. Three elderly sisters will be cooking onstage throughout the play, sometimes even reciting recipes. A single product reference -- "Eye of newt, toe of frog, one-quarter cup ReaLemon reconstituted lemon juice" -- will be $20,000. An entire couplet will be priced at $40,000. For $60,000, the sisters will say, "Heck, let's just dump this mess and call Domino's."

    There will be a fantasy sequence involving the lead actor and a dagger. For $20,000, he could say, "Is that a dagger that I see before me? Methinks I recognize it from the Hammacher-Schlemmer catalog." (For $40,000, he will seize the implement and use it to slice some cheese.) The King also has trouble sleeping. A Sominex visual would be $20,000; for $40,000, he would actually swallow a pill; for $60,000, his insomnia can be cured, though this will take some rewriting.

    A related opportunity involves the female lead, who is obsessed with personal hygiene. An entire scene is devoted to her washing her hands. Bill wants $20,000 for each soap product displayed on her vanity. For $40,000, after moaning "Out, damned spot," she will turn to the audience, smile brightly, and say, "And out it came, thanks to pure Ivory soap!" For $60,000, an attendant will comment that her hands are "not only clean, but soft as well, your Majesty."

    We also represent the painter and muralist Michelangelo. As you know from Variety, he is just finishing the sketches for his big Sistine Chapel production. Mike has never before offered product placements in his works, so this is a rare opportunity for a shrewd advertiser. The ceiling will depict the moment of creation -- Adam and God with arms outstretched to each other and fingers touching. It's dynamite, I promise you. For $20,000, Adam could be wearing a Rolex watch; for $40,000, God could wear one; for $60,000, both. Although Mike is committed to the concept of Adam naked, God could be a wonderful showcase for the right designer. We're thinking of $20,000 per item of dress; $40,000 if you want to buy the full costume. For $60,000, Mike will inscribe the legend "Godwear by Oscar de la Renta."

    Here, briefly, are some other items from our latest catalog:

    -- We represent a group of lawyers that is adding a Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution. For $20,000, your product can be included as a basic human right in one of the ten currently planned amendments. For $40,000, you can have an amendment of your own. For $60,000, the Constitution will ban rival products.

    -- We're pleased to announce that T.S. Eliot has joined our Poets' Corner. For $20,000, J. Alfred Prufrock will ask himself, "Do I dare to eat a Snickers bar?" For $40,000, he will answer, "Yes!"

    -- ASCAP has asked us to handle product placements in popular songs. For example, a ballad called These Foolish Things is available that lists various items that ostensibly "remind me of you." For $20,000, the lyric "A tinkling piano in the next apartment" could be amended to "A tinkling Steinway . . ." and so on. (For an extra $20,000, the song's title could be changed to These Wise Investments.)

    -- The prominent civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. is planning a big speech on the Washington Mall. Influenced by the success of product placements in President Kennedy's Inaugural Address ("Let the word go forth that the torch has been passed to the Pepsi generation . . ." and so forth), Marty is prepared to build a big dream sequence around a few selected products. For $20,000, he will declare, "I have a dream that some day blacks and whites will sit together at McDonald's, sharing a Big Mac and fries." For $40,000, he will display a Big Mac on the podium, and for $60,000, he will consume it during the speech.

    -- Finally, several clients have asked about the availability of the Bible. At the moment, the author feels product placements would undermine his message. But we're working on him.