If Dilbert Can Become a Billboard, Why Not Dagwood Too?
Back when publishing titan William Randolph "Does Yellow Make My Wallet Look Fat?" Hearst was going all Citizen Kane on his many minions, he used to order his comic-strip cartoonists to plug products in their Sunday funnies. Hearst owned the comics, he seemed to reason, so why NOT turn them into four-color billboards for whatever he wanted to sell?
Six decades and countless suction-cup Garfield dolls later, another Bay Area businessman -- "Dilbert" creator SCOTT ADAMS -- is now peddling product in a comic strip. The big distinction, though, is it's Adams' own product that's being pushed.
In several "Dilbert" strips last week, Adams referenced a computer file-storage business he's licensed that bears his title character's name. (And yes, I realize that by merely mentioning this controversy, I am inextricably helping raise awareness of his new business. The difference is, Adams has yet to direct-deposit a kickback in my direction. So far.)
I come here today not to bury Adams and his decision to promote [Dilbert Name-Brand Product Deleted Here For Your Protection]. You're all big enough to have made up your own minds about what you think of product placement in popular entertainment.
No, my mission today is to point out that some cartoonists might be tempted to follow Adams's lead and turn their strip into a big fat ad. That acknowledged, I can only ask: Which strips could have the most fun with cheesy product placement?
Sure, Earl in "Pickles" could shill for prunes, Polident or Viagra (yeeps) -- and Dagwood could lobby for luncheon meat (which he practically has), but that seems almost too obvious. Nah, let's get creative: Perhaps Rob Wilco could become pitchman for Ritalin-Laced Friskies (for that secessionist psycho-cat in your home). Or in "Judge Parker," Sam Driver's new Full-Body Manscaping Kit by Nair.
So what say you, comics fans? If you've got the perfect product to brazenly place in a strip, give it your best shot. Bucky Katt is waiting to sell out for the right price.
| January 26, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: The Morning Line
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