NBC’s “2008 Olympics/Mummy 3” Cross-Promotion Is Appalling

Last night, NBC premiered a two-and-a-half minute cross-promotion aligning their Universal Studios’ upcoming release of “Mummy 3” with their coverage of the 2008 Olympics in China.

Click here to watch the commercial.

I expect that there will be a backlash from the media and sports communities, as this TV commercial is insulting to Olympic athletes and viewers alike. If you haven’t seen this commercial, you probably won’t understand the vitriol to follow.

NBC may as well have lined up every single 2008 Olympic athlete and systematically spat in their faces. These athletes didn’t ask to be trivialized as poster children to recoup loss on a terrible movie with which they have nothing to do. The ad strips Olympic athletes of their dignity.

From this TV ad, I remember a tasteless quick-cut from a CGI battle scene into stock footage of an actual Olympic boxing match. I also remember a clip of Brendan Frasier shouting something like, “We’re the good guys!” cutting to stock footage of an American runner winning a race.

From a business perspective, this isn’t rocket science and it makes sense. Universal Studios spent a ton of money making “Mummy 3” but it’s going to be a huge flop if it doesn’t get some serious help. So, NBC as the parent company of Universal Studios decides to do some damage control. They decide to take an angle which apparently justifies the aligning of “Mummy” with the 2008 Olympics: They are both filmed in China… that’s it. That is NBC’s angle.

As tasteless as it may be, the business logic behind it makes sense, which makes it that much more tasteless. This is NBC telling us, the American public, just how stupid they think we are:

Barbara Blangiardi, SVP of Strategic Marketing and Content Innovation for NBC, has this to say:
“The shared location of China represented the opportunity to do something special together.”

Wow. Let’s get this straight: NBC overtly trivializes the Olympics, the Olympic athletes and the viewers of the Olympics on the large scale to recoup a few dollars on a bad movie… and they think we’re stupid enough to not notice. The sad thing is that most people really are that stupid. Are you one of them?

Who’s the bad guy, now?

[UPDATE:] This TV spot is just the beginning of NBC’s roll-out marketing campaign aligning “Mummy 3” with The 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. This ad will be featured in movie theatres, theme parks, airlines and digital displays in 4,700 NYC taxi cabs (a full-third of the NYC taxi fleet)… the list goes on. My prediction is that the most impression intensive period of this campaign will take place during NBC’s coverage of the latter portion of the Olympic trials and the beginning of the 2008 Olympic Games

[SIDENOTE:] I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this ad premiered during NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”, the one program on television which arguably retains the stupidest audience in the country. As evidence, some focus-group preferred the title “America’s Got Talent” over “America Has Talent”, the latter of which, anyone who is not retarded would prefer. Also, does anyone else find it strange that two out of the three judges on “America’s Got Talent” are British? I digress.

New readers: Your opinion is welcomed in the comments.


8 Responses

  1. From an advertising perspective, the dual promotion is amazing. New technology has enabled advertisers to “do more with less.” Essentially they can advertise more on less relevance.

    From the movie perspective, the movie will very likely need all the help it can get to do well.

    From an intelligence perspective, people are dumb; brand products work. People see a celebrity endorse various clothing products and they go out to buy it solely on that reason. It’s insulting, sure, but when the majority of people (not just Americans) choose brand products over cheaper, but just as good quality generic products, why should they change the tactics that work?

  2. @Demerzel: From a business standpoint, I completely agree that this is an innovative and highly effective advertising initiative. This ad is going to be everywhere. Movie theaters, theme parks, airplanes, and 4,700 NYC taxi cabs.

    I am debating the “taste” of this ad and citing a specific example of how corporate America views its public, as idiots, though I’m not saying they’re wrong. These athletes didn’t ask to be trivialized as poster children to recoup loss on a terrible movie with which they have nothing to do. The ad strips Olympic athletes of their dignity on some level. As an amateur athlete and a professional advertiser, I can assure you that a line has been crossed.

    I’ve reread your comment several times. The tone seems to be from a contrary perspective while the content seem to support my arguments in bullet point fashion. It is possible that your and my opinions are in line with one another but we may be coming at it from different angles. Would you consider clarifying?

  3. I think you are correct in noting that we are coming from contrary perspectives to a point. I agree that corporations view people as idiots, but not necessarily just corporations on people.

    Yes, we have corporations on people where Google can put up photos of your house, car, you, and even your license plate number on Google Maps for all to see since it is in the “public domain” and there have been no repercussions since they currently get away with “if you want it down, just tell us” rather than the fact that once it’s on the net, it’s everywhere.

    Yet, we also have the government on people where the majority of the American population really do not care about our Fourth Amendment anymore. Warrantless wiretapping? People shrug.

    Interestingly, we also get people/corporations on other corporations as well–Youtube is a great example of this by placing up works of art they do not own for all to see.

    As for Olympic athletes–I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a claim that since they were in a public domain (everyone sees the Olympics), then they can use images of these athletes. Has a line been crossed? Yes. Will anyone care? I’m afraid few will.

    It’s down a slippery slope that is progressing along for awhile now, that said, I would keep an eye on the Viacom vs. Google battle to see if this begins to swing some things around on respecting the privacy of people, corporations, etc.

  4. Agreed 100%. I saw this at the theater the other night and couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

  5. Hahaha…I was just talking about how bad this commercial was, and loved this write up. Seriously, the cutting from a fireball to a volleyball spike??? makes me want to throw up. It’s so bad that it is funny.

    Mummy 3. Are you kidding me? Who gave this project the green light? Good for Brendan Frasier for milking this franchise for all it’s worth. I hope NBC plays this ad for the duration of the Olympics so I can get endless laughs with my buddies.

  6. @Bill: I am avoiding theatres for this exact reason. I’m afraid I’ll go ballistic and embarrass myself in a public arena… other than the internet.

    @Kevin: Don’t worry. You and your buddies will have ample opportunities to laugh-it-up. Whoever is responsible for affording you this pleasure should be closely scrutinized… or at least stoned to death.

  7. Sounds like Tomb of the Dragon Emperor met everyone’s expectations; fun yes, but Brendan Frasier tries too hard to act, so he has an unnatural feel on screen

  8. Universal Studios is still one of the best film studios and you can also visit their offices ”

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