Let’s Cut to Commercial

Lets_Cut_HeaderI love old-time radio, when a recording couldn’t just re-record or “do that in post,” and I listen with undivided interest when I hear the tiniest slip-up of an actor’s lines because I know it’s live and, honestly, I can’t imagine the faces they get from their fellow actors in the studio. My favorite aspect, however, is the shameless promotion of the sponsors that finance the show, those corporate benefactors that bring you your favorite program week after week. The sponsors themselves may change, but the shilling of their product remains earnest in its cheesiness.

Early on in radio, sponsors got their own plug during the show with the voice actors, sometimes in-character. Other times, the product was placed by name into a scene, even if it was a stretch for the setting or somewhat clunky and unrealistic in its delivery. I’ll often stop what I’m doing when listening to these programs just to enjoy the bygone nature of these mini-commercials that are seemingly thrown into a scene to keep the show rolling. (I mean, I used to smoke, but I never took time to extol the virtues of my brand of cigarette like a curator of a museum explaining the various works of art in the gallery.)

The same happens in either subtler or more overt methods now, since most sponsors are either in a visual medium or take up time in dedicated commercial chunks. The first Transformers movie, for instance, was one long General Motors commercial, and the Geico Insurance company has effectively co-opted an entire reptile species to shill it’s products. Radio commercials are often annoying audio cues that, hey, this show doesn’t pay for itself, and internet pop-up ads are like a garishly dressed lunatic running up to you and screaming a product name.

Listeners of my Shadowrun games will already know that I love throwing in fictional product tie-ins, with Jack Stallyon Whiskey and Snicketts Snack Bars being the top fake brands that feature with our fake personas. These items span the gamut of our collective games, from the far future to the Hollow Earth. We here at Fandible even have actual sponsors, though, in the form of Patreon donors, and we plug a very specific kind of product that they create: Character names! These name-checks of people created by the minds of others are our way of both thanking our sponsors and subtly incorporating their personal brand. They may be villains, friends or anything in-between, but they help us keep the lights on.

So what about you? Are there brands at your gaming table that traverse world’s, or are there real-life advertisements that, despite your best efforts, have really grown on you?

Better yet: Write a short voice over that would be featured in a commercial for your character’s TV show.

Whatever you choose, leave it in the comments below!

Fandible.Com is now on Patreon! If you enjoy our weekly blog posts and actual play podcasts, please consider supporting us.

About the Author
David is a human, standing at average human size with human features. He is not an android, that would be ridiculous. He is fond of horror movies, so-bad-it’s-good movies, stand-up comedy and humor sometimes inappropriate for a given setting but within the accepted parameters of average human interaction. David reads H.P. Lovecraft with human eyes, speaks about Cyberpunk with his human mouth (using vocal chords, not embedded speakers) listens to podcasts with his human ears and typed this from an undisclosed location with his human hands. He was created in New England.

2 comments on “Let’s Cut to Commercial

  1. Brian says:

    Have you heard the audio program, Dark Adventure Radio Theater? It adapts H.P. Lovecraft stories in the style of old radio dramas. Anyway, they did the same thing with fake commercials, like for Fleur De Lis cigarettes.

  2. CallmeIshma3l says:

    The Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast has a similar shtick: old time radio style comedy. One segment, “Jefferson Reid, Ace American” was sponsored by Patriot Brand Cigarettes (Their Good For Your Constitution!)
    Closest I’ve got is an DnD Eberron Airship named Melf’s Other Arrow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.