Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview


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Watching commercials about food, especially about M&Ms, Frosted Mini Wheats and Hershey’s kisses, all three of them encourage their people co-stars to eat them.  It’s an interesting self-annihilation message that I don’t think was sent as much by earlier foods/cereals.   The bee in Honey Nut Cheerios is not the cereal, but rather a representative of the cereal, so he doesn’t get eaten.  Neither did anthropomorphised Tony the Tiger, the leprechan of Lucky Stars or Captain Crunch.  But at the same time, M&Ms, Frosted Mini Wheats and Hershey’s kisses are also saying they will never die because all of them could never be eaten.  They are one.  So if any live, the all live, essentially forever.  Sort of reminds me of that scene in “Toy Story” when Buzz Lightyear realized he wasn’t an individual, but only one of billions of other dolls on a superstore shelf.  This kind of ubiquitous and simultaneous disposability, interchangability and indestructability says something about how the marketing departments of these three food conglomerates think we see ourselves now compared to earlier times.  Cereal representatives like talking tigers were closer to us as equals.  They had limbs and were sometimes full sized.  Besides, the tiger could scratch you, the leprechan sometimes threw magic and the captain had a sword.  These newer avatars, although they can speak, don’t look like us as much, and they are always much smaller.  It’s almost like they were made harmless on purpose, like pets or smaller little buddies who would never be a threat.  Also, as opposed to a sea captain who you might think has independence as an entity, community, comraderie and sameness (everybody coming out of the same box or bag) is important with kisses, wheat squares and chocolate drops.  A simple mission and a single job (taste good) is important.  Looking good (have you seen the brown lady M&M, with heels?) is important. Talent, or better, usefulness (bell choir Hershey’s kisses) is important.  And good naturedness (Chex happily swimming in the impending doom of milk) is important.   Reeses Peanut Butter cups are simply things to be eaten with no dialogue or agency and no attempt is made to help them form a relationship with the viewer.  Chik-Fil-A, by contrast sends a completely opposite message; do not eat this.  Namely,  anthropomorphised cows encouraging us to eat chicken.  If logic followed, it would make more sense to have the chickens of Chik-Fil-A telling us to eat beef.  But I guess Chik-Fil-A doesn’t want to take the chance that we might actually go and eat beef.   And of course, their chickens must not have any power to speak for themselves. What does this have to do with interviews?  Nothing.  Just observations on media and marketing.

Written by Interviewer

December 19, 2012 at 13:56

Posted in Scratchpad

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