Disastrous commercial

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Aug. 28 2009 11:03 AM

Disastrous commercial

So I'm watching some TV for the first time in a while (man, watching "They Live" was cathartic), and a commercial comes on. It's a peculiar mix of one of those feel-good pharmaceutical ads showing people being happy and all together with nonsense about the end of the world in 2012. The ad is from the IHC: the Institute of Human Continuity.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  


It is a very slick ad, and the IHC website is also very well done.

The thing is: it's made up. Fiction. It's viral advertising for the movie 2012 which comes out later this year. I've been getting tons of mails from people who have seen this commercial and asked what's up with it. A lot of folks got it, but many didn't.

I love movies, and I love disaster movies, and I even love bad over the top ridiculous disaster movies. And at some level I don't mind Hollywood making a 2012 movie because it's just another topic tailor-made for Irwin Allenification... but this commercial makes me unhappy.

First and foremost: the 2012 doomsayers are full of crap. Pretty much every single thing they claim is complete and utter garbage. The Mayan calendar does not end in 2012. The Sun's flare cycle does not peak in 2012. There is no special Galactic Alignment in 2012. There is no such thing as the giant planet Nibiru. Etc., etc. The people promoting this garbage are either self-deluded, or they are con artists trying to bilk people out of money by scaring them to death, a time-honored tradition among the dishonorable. But people are really getting scared about this bilge -- and a lot of them are kids who don't yet have the critical thinking skills to be able to see through all this.

And that's why I don't like this ad. The only sign that it's a viral commercial for a movie is at the very beginning when, for a fraction of a second, the Columbia Pictures logo is flashed onscreen. On the IHC website it's at the very bottom, in teeny tiny letters, saying that the site is copyright Sony Pictures.

In other words, the ad plays up on the fears of the 2012-pushers, essentially fear-mongering itself.

Again, I have no problems with realistic movie ads in general, as long as it's clear it's about a movie. This commercial hides that as much as it can, and it's designed to play up on fears.

I'm still interested in seeing the movie -- and I wonder if it may actually dispel 2012 fear-baiting because it will be so ridiculously over-the-top -- but I hope they stop advertising it in this way.

[P.S. The building in the ad looks familiar. Does anyone recognize it?]



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