The Original Alphabet Business Concern

Sometime late morning August 24 1986 Cardiacs took over the stage at the Reading Rock Festival, a performance recorded and released as the somewhat legendary Rude Bootleg.

Amongst the couple of hundred people paying attention were me and my friend Bart:


Well, you’ll have to take my word for it, that’s us getting tuned in to the quirk.

Many years later my friend Pete got married at Polhawn Fort in Rame. I was Best Man, Cardiacs leader, Tim Smith, was Maid of Honour. They say you should never meet your heroes for fear of disappointment but he really was a gentleman.

As Google announces its new operating structure it’s probably time for you to buy some Cardiacs music from the original Alphabet Business Concern.

Early Product Placement At The Movies

Pretty much everything anyone would ever want to know about product placement on the silver screen was covered in Morgan Spurlock’s excellent documentary The Greatest Story Ever Sold. If you haven’t watched that yet please do, it will change the way you view movies and TV forever.

Re-watching Ozu’s Tokyo Story the other day I was struck by two instances of in-your-face product placement.

The most noticeable comes late in the film as Noriko receives a call at work. This being fifties Japan there’s only one phone in the office and we’re treated to a static shot of Noriko crossing the room to get to it. This is the frame:


The shot lasts for seven seconds. You might want to kick your tyres when you get out of the theatre.

Other advertising is visible when Shūkichi and Tomi visit Noriko’s tiny apartment. Again, it’s a static shot, and again the placement is visible throughout the scene:


The Rinso box might seem insignificant in the screencap but the eye is drawn back to it again and again. There’s nothing accidental about anything appearing in the shot, you’re watching the result of meticulous set design.

Perhaps Ozu is telling us that Noriko’s quiet virtue and devotion to familial values run deeper than her dead husband’s siblings’ because she uses a better quality detergent?

Anyway, it’s amazing to me that I hadn’t picked up on the product placement before. These are the only western brands visible throughout the film and they’re both very much dominant in the frame. I’d love to know how this came about.

I Forgot My Phone

I wonder whether the massed ranks of the Situationist International imagined our tippy-tappy multiscreen world when they predicted:

the progressively increasing tendency towards the expression and mediation of social relations through objects.

Following the SI’s theory we must live in the most advanced state of capitalism. There may or may not be nothing wrong with that, but please put your phone down every now and then, you’re pissing people off.

Hat tip to: charstarleneTV