Back to the Future Day or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Product Placement

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” He actually said this, I’m not making it up this time.

This is getting a little out of hand. Don’t get me wrong, I love BACK TO THE FUTURE as much as the next guy. And the fact that today is the day Marty McFly goes to the future to bail out his meddling kid is cool and all, but does it need to be such a “thing?”

I’ll admit that it’s fun to see how accurate someone’s prediction of the future has become, but we’ve been here before. George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (written in 1949) predicted a dark, dystopian future controlled by an omniscient and omnipresent dictator. Better luck next time, Orwell. But it’s also about seeing how DIFFERENT our future is, and in the many ways more positive and hopeful... An unassuming time for reflection and new predictions for the years ahead (but seriously Cubs it ain’t gonna happen).

The Pirates were robbed.

But what this ISN’T and SHOULDN’T be is another Black Friday. I absolutely get promoting a 30-year anniversary DVD edition of BACK TO THE FUTURE. That’s fun and it makes sense, today is about their property, so why not. But WHY Olive Garden is running promoted tweets for their breadsticks on Twitter is beyond me. And how exploitative is it that Lexus is taking out a significant media buy on the social media platform to take advantage of the trend by promoting their new (confoundedly expensive) “hoverboard?”

Ally Bank, Amazon, Shell Gasoline, Mercedes-Benz, Crocs, Sony Electronics, Burger King, Staples, 7-Eleven, American Express, LG, Red Vines, Sennheiser, DiGiorno Pizza, Siemens, Verizon, Audi, PayPal, HP, GameSpot, PetCo, Penguin Random House, even PETA are tweeting or running promoted posts on Twitter to capitalize on the existing trend, promoting their brands by bombarding us with advertisements under the guise of witty commentary, memes, gifs, whatever.

Look, I can’t say I BLAME them — I wouldn’t work in marketing if I did — it’s just one of those frustrating moments as a consumer AND marketer when all we want to do is enjoy a fleeting, novel cultural event but big brands are encouraging us to open up our wallet for RED VINES and CROCS. Actually, the Crocs tweet was pretty good…

Okay, that’s enough out of me. Take it away, Bernie.