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Product placement in Blade Runner: a really big why

(OPINION EDITORIAL) If a brand places a product to encourage consumers to buy, why would a brand wish to be included into a creator’s depiction of a doom and gloom future?

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blade runner

Product placement in 2017 can take many forms and fashions, but the simple presence of a brand logo noticeable on the screen has been around since at least the early 20th century. A brand may choose to pay to be depicted in popular culture to drive sales of products, just like Buster Keaton did in his 1919 film The Garage.

For example, nothing says “ET phone home” quite like the peanut butter candy Reese’s Pieces. And nothing quite says “a bleak, polluted jaunt through Los Angeles during capitalism’s implosion in the year 2049” like Coca-Cola.

Wait, what?

Coca-Cola is one of a handful of brands included in Blade Runner 2049, a lega-sequel follow up to the 1982 cult classic Blade Runner. Other brands featured similarly in one or both films include Atari, Cusinart, Pan-Am, Johnnie Walker, Polaroid, and french car manufacturer Peugeot.

But if a brand’s inclusion in a piece of media is to create motivation to buy the product, why would a brand wish to be included into a creator’s depiction of a hopeless and destitute future?

Michael Golden, in his book Social Media Strategies for Professionals and their Firms.
discusses that the only thing that the modern brand has true control over is its “name, logo, and brand colors.”

A brand, according to Golden, in the era of social media should strive to “engage and interact with those who know [the brand] in order to maximize brand loyalty.”

Contemplating this strategy and applying it to Coca Cola’s presence in Blade Runner 2049 sheds light on the reason a brand would choose to be in a film with a negative perspective of the future of Earth.

For starters, Coca Cola is presented to be a household name, even in distressing science fiction future, implying the brand’s importance and enduring legacy.

Another potential reason for Coca Cola’s presence in the dystopian future of Blade Runner 2049? Nostalgia.

“There’s no doubt that the brand value of Coca Cola, for instance, is in the taste buds, heads and nostalgic hearts of the public,” writes Golden in Social Media Strategies for Professionals and their Firms. Many fans of the first film will remember this brand’s presence in a film they enjoy.

Coca Cola maximizes this nostalgic connection to increase its brand value, and of course, its own bottom line.

Blade Runner 2049 may escape being another entry into “2017 reboots that use nostalgia as a marketing strategy,” but brands like Coca Cola and Atari are using it to full advantage to drive attention and sales.

Alexandra Bohannon has a Master of Public Administration degree from University of Oklahoma with a concentration in public policy. She is currently based in Oklahoma City, working as a freelance filmmaker, writer, and podcaster. Alexandra loves playing Dungeons and Dragons and is a diehard Trekkie.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. MilesT

    November 30, 2017 at 7:23 am

    FYI: Peugeot Automobiles recently bought the car making/sales businesses of General Motors in Europe (including the Vauxhall and Opel brands). The brand is one of the oldest car brands still in operation (over 100 years), with the Lion logo referencing the founding company “Lion Motors”

    Peugeot also makes and sells cars under the Citroen brand (usually on shared platforms, including a minicar platform share with Toyota), and has legacy brands resulting from previous takeovers from Chrysler and others e.g. Talbot, Rootes, Simca. Also has a joint venture (Seyval) to manufacture light commercial vehicles with Fiat, and formerly also Iveco/Ford. Peugeot and Ford Europe also sell car diesel engines to each other, with Peugeot offering expertise in sub 2.0 litre diesel motors for small cars

    The only Peugeot cars that might be relevant to the US would be sports or design led, e.g. small convertibles (Peugeot/Citroen branded) or the Citroen “DS” design led subbrand, to compete with BMW Mini and Volkswagen New Beetle. Potentially small volumes of commercial vehicles for specialist conversion e.g. RVs.

  2. Alex

    June 4, 2018 at 12:16 am

    If someone realizes Coca-Cola and other corporations are the reason for a dystopian future while watching the movie, then they may rationalize from reverse psychology marketing that Coke must not be bad for you if they’re willing to put their brand in this movie without worrying about hurting their sales. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola is laughing at the ones who realize the ingredients in soda are terrible for your health and buying Coke will support unsustainable, intensive farming.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob or an un-alphabetized bookshelf.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, decluttering can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those three things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer slowing you down? Does it make a simple job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment to improve your productivity.

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better equipment, better work

What is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes.

In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on StackExchange.com an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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Opinion Editorials

How to build a company culture while working remotely

(OPINION EDITORIAL) It seems that even a post COVID-19 world will involve remote work, so how can you build and maintain a strong work culture that ensures growth and satisfaction?

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New startups and existing companies are starting to transition to a fully remote (or nearly fully remote) model, but what does this mean for work culture? If you’re not careful, your work culture could easily become diminished as you transition to a remote environment, and if you’re building a company from the ground up, you may not have a strong culture to begin with.

Culture isn’t something you can afford to give up, so how can you build and maintain your company culture while working remotely?

The importance of a strong work culture

Maintaining a strong, consistent company culture is vital, even if your company is operating remotely. With a strong work culture, you’ll enjoy benefits like:

  • Better recruiting potential. A company with strong work culture will seem more attractive to talented candidates. The best people in the industry will want to work at a place with a great team and a great set of values.
  • Like-minded teammates. Establishing a consistent work culture allows you to selectively hire, then maintain employees who are like-minded. Employees with similar goals and mentalities, even if they come from different backgrounds, will be able to collaborate more efficiently.
  • Smoother communication. A strong foundational work culture that establishes goals, values, and beliefs within an organization can enable smoother, more efficient communication. Staff members will be on the same page with regard to high-level priorities, and will be able to exchange information in similar patterns.
  • Lower stress and less turnover. Better work cultures generally mean lower stress for employees, and accordingly, less employee turnover. Of course, this assumes you’re hiring good fits for the organization in the first place.
  • A better public reputation. Your work culture can also boost your public reputation—especially if you emphasize core values that are important to your target audience.

How to build company culture remotely

Traditionally, you can use in-person team-building sessions, regular meetings, and workplace rules to establish and maintain your company culture, but while working remotely, you’ll need to employ a different set of tactics, like:

  • Hiring the right candidates. Building a great culture starts with hiring. You have to find candidates who fit with your organization, and already share your core values. If someone doesn’t agree with your high-level approach, or if they don’t like your rules or workflows, they aren’t going to do their best work. These same considerations should be applied to your third party hires as well; agencies and freelancers should also fit into your values.
  • Hosting virtual team-building events. You can’t host in-person team-building events, but that doesn’t mean that team-building is inaccessible to you. Consider hosting a video conference to introduce your team members to each other, or bond over a shared event. You could also host virtual game nights, or provide team lunches to celebrate wins. Any excuse to engage with each other in a non-work context can help employees feel more connected and part of the team, and there are plenty of options to make it work virtually.
  • Streamlining communication. Good communication is both a constituent factor and a byproduct of effective company culture. If you want your culture to thrive, you have to set good standards for communication, and encourage your employees to communicate with each other consistently and openly. People need to feel heard when they speak, and feel comfortable voicing their opinions—even if they don’t agree with their superiors. There should also be easily accessible channels for communication at all levels. Over time, this foundation will help your employee communication improve.
  • Improving transparency. Workplace transparency is important for any employer, but it’s especially important for remote businesses trying to build or maintain a strong culture—and it’s challenging if you’re operating remotely. If you’re open and honest about your goals and how you operate, employees will feel more trusted and more engaged with their work. Strive to answer questions honestly and disclose your motivations.
  • Publishing and reiterating company core values. One of the biggest factors responsible for making a company culture unique is its set of core values. Spend some time developing and refining your list of core values. Once finished, publish them for all employees to read, and make time to reiterate them regularly so employees remember them.
  • Making employees feel valued. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make your employees feel valued. Take the time to show your appreciation however you can, whether it’s through a simple thank-you message or an occasional cash bonus, and be sure to listen to employee feedback when you get it.

Building a work culture in a remote environment is more challenging, and requires consideration of more variables, but it’s certainly possible with the right mentality. Spend time setting your priorities, and make sure you’re consistent in your execution.

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