It’s Now Some Kind of Meta-Thing, I Think

I’m glad Hollywood makes awful films, because their New York Times takedowns are worth all the terrible subway ads. (Almost.) Similarly, I’ve been enjoying all the incredulity coming out of TV critics’ assessments of Sarah Palin’s Alaska. And so I sauntered over to the Los Angeles Times review, only to be interrupted by a roadblocking ad for the new Doug Liman film Fair Game.

In case you’re unaware: Fair Game is based on the true story of the Bush administration’s illegal outing of Valerie Plame Wilson as an undercover CIA agent in retaliation for her husband (former Ambassador) Joe Wilson’s refusal to fabricate evidence insinuating nuclear weapons/WMD capabilities in Iraq.

What’s somewhat genius about the ad, though, is that it quotes and links to actual L.A. Times articles about the original scandal. For all our fancy prognostications about “transmedia” and expanded storytelling, this strikes me as a far more prosaic – and thus subtler – notion of storytelling in 2010. The filmmakers want you to read the real-life source material; hell, I’m sure Valerie Plame does too. And mixing the primary documents with a slick Hollywood trailer in the same ad wasn’t remotely off-putting. At least to me. It felt savvy, organic.

I can only assume we’ll see more of these kinds of ads, which, like most interesting developments in the past year and a half, bend the definition of marketing, advertising, and editorial. The largest-scale products will get all the industry attention (Tron Legacy, Avatar 2), and that’s fine. But there are small touches like this, for entertainment outside of the teen-friendly safety net of genre, that are worth noting. So… note them.

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