Toyota Infiltrates Music `Scene’ and Network TV to Sell Scion

For years now we have said that “product placement” has been replaced by what we’ve termed “plot” placement. That means episodes of programs, entire series, and even TV networks created in support of a brand/sponsor (such as the new Bud.TV-reg required).

Toyota’s marketeers for its Scion line like to insert the brand in “hip” culture. Now, they are ramping up its efforts within the independent and underground music world, with negotiations to launch a reality TV show called “Stomping Grounds,” starring hip-hop artists who cruise around (in Scion vehicles) the neighborhoods they grew up in.” One of Scion’s agencies told MediaPost that “Stomping Grounds” is now in “film festivals, but we are approaching networks about licensing the show and making a series out of it. That’s how we would approach it, as a Scion-branded show, with Scion cars in it.” This week Scion launched “a program using hip-hop producer Hi-Tec, who has produced for 50 Cent and Jay Z, among others. As part of the program, “The Prospect,” he will select a promising hip-hop artist, record his music and make a music video, while Inform Ventures develops a marketing program and a mini-tour for the artist. The winner of the program will be chosen in July, based on submissions to”

The Brand and Not-so Beautiful world that Toyota, Viacom’s MTV and Nickelodeon (see today’s Nick announcement), and so many, many others are creating ultimately makes everything in our world an extension of a brand message. Yes, I believe that hip-hop artists, video and online content producers, and journalists must be paid decently (and have the resources to do their work). But if music, childhood, and civic discourse are reduced to mere extensions of [perpetual] marketing campaigns, isn’t that a cynical and disturbing development? Yes, I believe so. Do we really want to develop a global culture where the public is forced to have never-ending relationships with brands and their messages?

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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