My Childhood, Repurposed

by on May.07, 2009, under comics, Entertainment, movies

I guess I’m somewhat of a purist. I don’t particularly care for the use of samples from great rock songs in rap and hip-hop music (I don’t think it is wrong, it just isn’t to my tastes). Though I am a fan of a decent remake or mixing that seems artfully done. In the same sense, I’m not a fan of seeing (or in this case hearing) pop cultural elements that I respect being reused in a manner that I cannot respect. So you can imagine my chagrin when I heard a radio commercial this morning do precisely that.

On my morning drive as I was attempting to ignore an unusually long commercial block waiting for some more interesting programming, I heard a spot that featured none other than Peter Cullen doing his best Don LaFontaine impression to shill some initially unnamed product. Not long into the commercial, I find that it is none other than Coors Light who has employed the voice of Optimus Prime in order to promote their color-changing bottle-label and taste-preserving bottle-cap technologies. I was beside myself to say the least. Let me explain why.

See, if it was winter – in the heart of football play-off season, I wouldn’t really take issue with it. It would be a prime beer promotion season and reaching for that “in a world” vibe for their marketing would be completely viable. But it is not football season and Coors is not trying to reach the tailgaters of America with this campaign. This marketing decision was made with the upcoming release of the Transformers sequel in mind. Coors is specifically trying to reach my generation with these ads (there is apparently a TV spot as well) – they are exploiting the sci-fi/comic book geek generation with this casting choice. If you doubt my claim, you need only hear the commercial’s tagline to know I’m correct: “With great beer comes great responsibility.” (If you are not one of us, you may not recognize this phrase, but we know!)

So in this blockbuster movie season when many of the hot titles to see are of the science fiction and comic book genre, it seems that a beer company has opted to capitalize on this market. And it disturbs me. Because while I hate to see such childhood heroes as Optimus Prime and Spider-man have their visage tarnished promoting adult beverages, I have to commend them for their efforts. I don’t like it, but it is well played.

I will try to avoid hearing this commercial again. And I will try to rationalize in my head that neither Hasbro or Marvel had any part in the creative licensing for this campaign (after all, Peter Cullen is not acting as Optimus Prime and the tagline is different enough that they didn’t likely need sign off to use it). As I said, I’m a purist, and I plan to try and keep it that way.

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