Branded: The Movie   Leave a comment

By Kyle Richardson

Branded is a dystopian science fiction film about a world that has become obsessed with consumerism and image identity. Also logoed alien tentacle monster things and George Bluth, Sr. Or something. Listen, I’m not saying the movie is going to be any good, or even make any sense, but it exists and it’s out today.

The movie is highly critical of marketing and advertising, taking the “mindless consumer” concept to its most literal conclusion. Advertisements for The Burger and Yepple, parodying company logos you will immediately recognize, are literally burrowing into viewers’ brains and controlling their preferences and purchasing actions. It’s subtle.

Maybe most interesting about the movie, which bashes you over the head with its “advertising is evil” thesis, was written and directed by two marketing executives. In an interview with sci-fi fan site io9, writer Jamie Bradshaw discusses his movie and how much he both loves and hates marketing with the most vacuous, marketing-speak filled non-answers you’ll ever see. He’s fighting marketing by marketing his movie about marketing, which is about how we shouldn’t use marketing. He’s also marketing it poorly, since no one else I’ve spoken to has heard of it.

A movie like this could only come out now. Growing up in the ’80s, I watched Transformers: The Movie and G.I. Joe: The Movie. Those were 90-minute commercials for toys disguised as entertainment. Now, we don’t disguise our advertisements. Mad Men glorifies the marketing world, every news organization in the world gives page-one coverage to Apple’s live commercials, and we have movies about brand logos coming to life and eating our brains. It requires a certain level of cultural self-awareness for ideas like these to foment.

In a way, it’s a good indication of the strength of the industry. A movie can come out and attack the world of advertising because everyone is aware of the world of advertising. It’s more than present, it’s embraced; anyone who denies it just has to look for a logo in their closet to be proven wrong. Branded can only exist because its premise is so wrong. Brands are not controlling the minds of people through illicit means, people are controlling brands through their wallets. And people can chose to watch advertising and support it with their money or, as I imagine will be the case with Branded, not.

Besides, we all know what the best sci-fi fantasy horror thriller about subversive advertising really is.

Watch the trailer here

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