Okay: cartoons are mainstream because the baby-boomers became adults. They were the first to grow up with tv in the house, and they welded to that morning childrens' programming like the empty little zombies they were. So animation has became another legitimate media pipeline and one that is also laced with the bonus of memories of happy kidhood. Learn 'em young.
So WHY when I get to the bottom of a can of ground coffee, don't I find a little foil pack with a game in it? All those years of training: wake me up in the morning, sit the cereal in front of me, and I pour it out wondering if today will be the day I get to the prize. Folks, us boomers are old now: coffee is my morning cereal. Where the heck is my secret decoder ring, huh? Damn... it's just another empty tin to flatten for recycling. Sigh. Life sucks. Oh the lies we were raised on....
While we're at it, the other morning cereal treat was the back of the box. I mean, it's the biggest thing on the table, and it's almost shaped like the tv so you're going to stare at it while you're slurping milk duds. So the cereal manufacturers used that: games and mazes were printed on the back, with lots of product placement, and sometimes a big panel of all the things you could "win" if you collected enough box tops. (What American kid doesn't know the words to "proof of purchase or reasonable hand-drawn facsimile required" better than the words to the national anthem?) So why not do this on the take-out cups at Starbucks et al? The new-age-relax-wallpaper-poetry printed on some of them is okay, but where's something to engage me for the sugar-coated moment? Some sort of game or quiz with a gentle lacing of our modern cynicism. I swear celphones were created to fill this void.
Okay, since I'm this far, I might as well let you in on the REALLY GREAT IDEA I have for Starbucks. You heard it first, here, for free, because I can't figure out how to make them pay me for it.
Starbucks plays Starbucks music. And Starbucks has all the Starbucks stores connected with smart cash registers that can control everything based on sales, even the staff schedule.
(Note to Starbucks: get that computer till to figure out sunshine. When the sun comes out here, my understaffed local gets swamped! Yes I know all cities don't react that way, so just key the database to react to cities with high sunglasses sales; Seattle has the highest shades sales per capita because when the sun finally shines you can't find yours and you're not going to waste precious moments looking -- you're rushing to the local 'bucks to sit outside in the glorious rarity. And while you're at it, get Oakley to design some unique shades for you and sell 'em at the counter. They can become another "I've made it" badge like your weird thermoses.)
So, you've got these interconnected lite-music playing coffee shops. Coffee shops that like to make clients feel like we care about warm fuzzy issues like rainforests. (The irony of where my coffee and sugar comes from is not lost on me; see note above on cynicism.) In those rainforests we have biology research stations doing things like trying to count all the critters and plants before they're wiped out by some sort of plantation (ahem). These biologists are not sexy like Michael Jordan so they're sponsored by universities instead of Nike.
Well..., why not, since we're all net connected, instead of buying cd's of the Amazon rain, put high-fidelity microphones with satellite connections near these research stations so we can listen in real time?
How will we pay for this, you might ask, being junior capitalists with fancy thermos mugs? Well, all coffee shops, restaurants, retail stores, and public venues are supposed to pay a royalty on the music they play. Little stores are too small to sue so no one cares, but big outfits are worth suing which is why they play "approved" music. So: you set it up so that any personal use of the real-time Amazon sounds is free, but retail outfits are required to pay a tiny percentage of sales while playing the link. So instead of Starbucks having a cd sitting on the counter trying to get you to buy the mix you're listening to, they can put up a sign showing the section of the rainforest they are "sponsoring" that moment, and that you are listening to in airconditioned comfort in Somecity.
Research gets sponsored, retail gets another feel-good-about-capitalism plug, and we all get more confused than ever about our modern world and need a really stiff cup of joe to calm us down.
Have a nice day.
This site is strictly personal. I give no guarantee to the accuracy of my facts or my fictions.
© 2000 Owen Briggs
last modified on 04 June 2000