The 13 Best Future Advertisements
Article by: Geek Girl Mistress Zelda|
Zelda wrote this list of her top 13 favorite fictional future advertisements...
My day job is in marketing, but even before that, I have always had a bizarre love for advertisements. It's always been oddly fascinating to me the ways in which the entertainment industry presents the future of marketing. With technology rapidly evolving, how will products be marketed to us? What kind of things will we buy? Who will advertisements target, and how? What about in a dystopian or post-apocalyptic setting? Will there still be a place for advertisements? Films seem to think yes. Let’s look at some of my favorite examples of future-ads.
In a future where we can connect to the internet directly with our brains, what’s to stop advertisements from being beamed directly there too? Nothing, probably.
12. Total Recall
Total Recall would be higher on this list, but come on. For advertising such advanced technology (Memory vacations! Virtual reality! Experience someone else’s experiences!) you’d think they’d be a little more up to date on their marketing techniques. Apparently it was enough to convince Arnold, though.
That is something the new film actually did better.
11. Fifth Element
Ok, this isn’t technically an advertisement – it’s more my favorite use of product placement in a future-film. Come on, McDonalds is gross. I don’t want to eat or work at McDonalds. HOWEVER. If I got to wear a uniform designed by Jean Paul Gaultier, the greatest designer in the world, then you can go ahead and sign me up.
While I am admittedly not a Firefly fan, there was one part of the Serenity movie I enjoyed a lot. Playing in the background of several scenes, you can see (and hear) an advertisement on screen for Fruity Oaty Bars. While you never see it in its entirety during the film, you can actually watch the full video in the special features of the DVD. While it’s not actually a central focus of the film, it’s a fun Easter egg that has become kind of a cult phenomenon. This list goes to show that in the dystopian future, Japan will continue to be ahead of the curve in marketing.
From the Shadowrun wiki: “NERPS, or New Exciting Retail ProductS, have been a background part of Shadowrun since early in the first edition sourcebooks. Adverts for NERPS are generally vague, ambiguous, and contradictory as to their exact nature of purpose. They are stand-ins for the latest trendy consumer product to hit the market, only to fade and be rapidly replaced. Real life examples include: Tamagotchi, POGs, kale chips, etc.”
You can see some examples of NERPS cleverly hidden in Shadowrun Returns.
8. Demolition Man
They never actually explain WHY vintage commercial jingles are the most popular type of music in Demolition Man. All we know is Sylvester Stallone, after being woken up from his court-ordered cryostasis, finds that the “oldies” station plays “wall to wall mini-tunes!” I enjoy a good jingle as much as the next guy, but if that was the only thing we had to listen to? Blech. How many of those products can even be available for purchase anymore? Probably not many, since all restaurants are now Taco Bell and vegetarianism is mandated by law.
We have to admit hearing the Jolly Green Giant song played on piano is pretty classy, though.
7. Back to the Future II
Back to the Future II is probably the very first time I fell in love with marketing. As soon as Marty arrives in the future, he is elbows deep in ads. From the political campaign posters lining the walls, to the animatronic, talking gas station marquis. But the real seller is one of the most iconic sequences (in my opinion) from the entire trilogy. I am talking of course about the holographic JAWS, which jumps out from the movie theater marquis and chomps the terrified time-traveler (“The shark still looks fake.”) As soon as the shark vanishes, yet another advertisement begins to play, this time of the mayor of Hill Valley hawking flying cars on a holographic screen on the main thoroughfare. It looks like even government officials are getting in on endorsement deals (although this movie is not technically the future anymore. Gasp!)
Of course, we have to include the strangely and depressingly prophetic future of Idiocracy. Television shows run simultaneously with half a dozen flashing advertisements,
Consumers are bullied and shamed into not purchasing products using moving billboards with taglines like “If you don’t smoke Tarrlytons…fuck you!”
Clothing is completely branded in advertisements.
But of course, the most obvious marketing is with the sports drink Brawndo and their tagline “Electrolytes – it’s what plants crave.” The advertising works so well that Brawndo employs half the population. When Luke Wilson’s character tries to explain that Brawndo is killing the plants (“But what are electrolytes?”) they can’t do anything but parrot back the tagline. “It’s what plants crave.” “But it’s got electrolytes.” Your marketing is a little too effective, Brawndo.
And that doesn’t even get into Starbucks and Cotsco.
5. Blade Runner
I’m not sure why the advertising in Blade Runner was always so fascinating to me. Maybe because they used very old fashioned concepts in a very new way. Or maybe it was just that a geisha THE SIZE OF AN ENTIRE SKYSCRAPER was eating candy as folks went about their business. How can you even ignore advertising at that point? It goes beyond even the abrasive advertising of modern Times Square. That is a commercial you can see from SPACE.
Oh, she also wants you to colonize off-world. Here she goes floating by on a blimp. Geishas apparently have the monopoly on future-marketing, and you CANNOT ESCAPE THEM.
4. Minority Report
We have already begun to experience the beginning of targeted advertising such as we see in Minority Report. Phillip K Dick tends to have a pretty good grasp on where our world is heading, and explores these themes in a very interesting way. Minority Report was not my favorite of the films adaptations of his novels, but the sequence of Tom Cruise walking through town and being assaulted with advertisements really stuck with me. It’s easy enough to ignore posters and billboards or even zone out during ads on TV and the internet, but what if they actually moved and spoke to you? What if they knew not only your name, but your interests and shopping habits as well? (I'm looking at you, Google.)
It looks like they still have a few bugs to work out, though.
3. Better Off Ted
Better Off Ted is one of many underrated and fantastic shows that got canceled in its prime. It revolved around a somewhat evil Research and Development company called Veridian Dynamics. Even though many of their products were awful, disgusting, inhumane, and unsafe, Veridian Dynamics managed to sell their products any way through use of clever advertising techniques. They were absolutely the funniest part of the show and it’s impossible to pick just one, so I leave you with the full playlist. Even out of context they still represent some of my favorite future advertisements and products. Better Off Ted just goes to show us that with some clever marketing you can spin anything into something people will buy (the key is cheerful music and a soothing voice!)
Pixar’s Wall-E was a movie with a serious message – a warning against the way our consumerist, lazy society is heading. Advertising factors very heavily into the whole film – the Buy N Large commercial being one of the most prominent examples. Their retro style and jingle is very catchy, but hidden in the lyrics is the real meaning “Happiness is what we sell.” Hopefully the message was one children picked up on, whether they realized it or not.
Advertising is constantly beamed into everyone’s face through their floating screens as they zip about on their floating chairs while instantly ordering fast food! Yum. What a life!
There is even one sequence where an advertisement pops up simultaneously on everyone’s screen. Why not try blue? Red is totally out this season. Instantly everyone on screen – previously dressed in the same, red jumpsuits – presses a button and are suddenly adorned in blue.
In fact, the spaceship where all humanity lives in Wall-E is pretty much just a floating mall. People have bought into advertisements so much that they have LITERALLY LOST THE ABILITY TO WALK. If that isn’t a message to the kids, I don’t know what is.
In the future, not even our dreams are safe from advertisements. Technology allows marketing to be injected directly into our brains as we sleep! What a time saver.
We can also enjoy ads virtually every time we log into the internet - actually, we can’t avoid them (so not much has changed).
Futurama also takes a dig at blind customer loyalty and the artificial scarcity of Apple products with their Eyephone episode. Even though the product is only marginally different than the previous version, and expensive, and uncomfortable, and unnecessary, people still wait in lines miles long to own them. Yup, sounds about right.
Not only that, this episode is responsible for one of the most frequently used response memes of all time. I can’t think of a better way to end than:
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March 22 2015