On My Lap or by My Side

I have increasingly become a person who cannot watch television without my Macbook on my lap or closely by my side. Last night, I was watching “Better off Ted,” or perhaps it was “The Mentalist,” when I glimpsed in less than a second of footage what looked like a Diane Von Furstenberg dress that I own. After reviewing the spot on my DVR, I went immediately to the internet. Searching on “AT&T” and the name of the song used in the ad, I immediately found the AT&T “Brewery” ad on both YouTube and an advertising commentary website. I paused the video on the moment when you would see the dress, saved a screen grab to my desktop and uploaded the photo to a little fashion gallery I maintain on my Facebook profile.

A few weeks ago, I did the same thing with an Ikea ad in which the woman in the ad was wearing a DVF wrap dress I had just purchased in December. It was really quite fun to see the dress play a prominent role throughout the thirty-second spot as the leading lady slammed cabinets and drawers in her kitchen taking out her frustration with her “idiot” boss. I guess the dress I had purchased represented what a career woman would wear to work. I noted how she adjusted the sleeves to make them seem three-quarter length, assessed whether the actress (or wardrobe-ist) had pinned the front of the dress to keep it closed – I will never fully understand the logistics of a wrap dress, and considered whether the blousiness I had experienced with the top of the dress seemed to be part of the design. In this case, I uploaded a link to the video to my Facebook Wall.

A few months ago, I heard a wonderful song at the very end of an “Ugly Betty” episode. I quickly went to YouTube in an effort to find the song. Alas, it did not come up in my search based on the key phrases, so I went to Google. Already, I found several chats and Yahoo! Answers exchanges in which co-fans asked each other for help in identifying this song and shared what they remembered of the lyrics. Alas, no luck – a terrible missed opportunity on the part of the musical artists and their managers/promoters. (I did circle back and find the song several months later after letting these other zealots continue their investigations.)

More recently, I heard a song on ‘Grey’s Anatomy” that I quite liked. In this case, I shortly discovered websites – hosted by ABC, I believe, that provided all the pertinent information for individual episodes, including the song titles associated with particular parts of the show, e.g., “the montage when…” After realizing that I had confused two episodes – as I was catching up on several weeks of drama at once, I found the song – quite easily – went to iTunes and purchased it. I then looked for other songs by the same artist, but found little available.

I attended a panel the other night organized by Bill Sobel’s NY:MIEG that featured panelists involved in fashion and music. They discussed why it was that musical artists today are so quick to “sell out” by making their music available for commercial use — TV shows and commercials — when it was so taboo years ago. My answer, the artists today are up and coming and still being “discovered” by the general population. The television producers are using the songs to set the mood for their shows, but the musicians are gaining just as much, if not more, benefit by (a) being associated with “cool” programming or products – think about Feist and Apple (b) getting exposure to millions of viewers in one fell swoop – not only for free (I believe) or, more likely, with compensation.

Years ago (and still today), musicians paid and wrangled to get their music aired on the radio. The radio is no longer the medium. In this case it is television – and yes, mass, multi-million viewer, broadcast television. However, it is a terrible missed opportunity if the music is not immediately available online and easy to find. I personally am always on the prowl for something new to add to my iPod lineup.

When Viagra was first introduced, the demand was so unprecedented and unexpected that there was a shortage of product. In fact, it was unfortunate that media plans could not be changed in time to hold off on advertising until new product could be manufactured. In any case, the age old lesson is that product needs to be available at the time that it is promoted. In the case of Viagra and of the Ragu Pasta Sauce I used to market, this is much more complicated to do as there is physical demand to forecast and physical product to manufacture and distribute. In the case of the Internet and music, the product must be easy to find and easy to obtain.

When I worked for NBC at the “turn of the century,” I used to call or e-mail my friend in the traffic department – who was always at the office until very late at night – to comment on what was happening or what clothing was being worn on the currently aired episode of “Friends” or “Seinfeld.” In the age of TiVO and the DVR, I can no longer expect that others are watching TV shows at the same time I am – alas. There are, however, chat rooms and Twitter exchanges I can go to afterwards – as I have usually watched the program after that fact – to see whether others agreed that a twist of the plot seemed very strange.

And so it is that I have become not only addicted to my TV and my DVR but to my laptop – as an inseparable entertainment combination.

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