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Czech Dream: the supermarket that didn't exist
June 15, 2005 7:47 AM   Subscribe

How do you attack the monster that is hype/commersialism/advertising, a monster that turns every rebellion into a profitable fashion? The preferred answer seems to be: with a practical joke. Practical jokes as media criticism is a current trend in art and documentary movies. An early example is Michael Moore's TV Nation. But there's always the bigger prank. Two Czech filmmakers made a huge advertising campaign for the opening of a new supermarket which didn't exist. 3,000 people showed up on an empty field. This is their story. Thanks, dabitch!
posted by Termite (39 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Please note that the video clip on the web page I'm linking to, where a lynch mob attacks the filmmakers, is a fake. Those scenes were shot later, with actors and theatre blood. In reality, the crowd handled the disappointment very well.
posted by Termite at 7:47 AM on June 15, 2005


How do you classify that advertising campaign as an attack on hype/commersialism/advertising?
posted by mischief at 8:12 AM on June 15, 2005


I wish I hadn't just read your comment. This picture, of the guys fleeing the mob, had me laughing pretty hard. I knew it was fake, though.
posted by OmieWise at 8:29 AM on June 15, 2005


What mischief said. Entertaining? Yes. An attack on the monster that is hype/commercialism/advertising? No.
posted by R590 at 8:50 AM on June 15, 2005


If it had been me in the crowd I'd have tried to beat the hell out of them. "I have a point about society, and I'm going to make you look like a fool to prove it."
posted by georgeTirebiter at 8:57 AM on June 15, 2005


Just a question. How is TV Nation attcking commercialism if you can buy seasons of the show on DVD?
posted by shawnj at 8:59 AM on June 15, 2005


This is sort of related - I see the guy who made Supersize Me has a new tv show (salon - annoying ad) that might have a bit of the feel of TV Nation.
posted by Staggering Jack at 9:00 AM on June 15, 2005


Man, you can't really show that people are easily duped by well-planned advertising by hyping a non-existent supermarket, because people already know what a supermarket is. People will show up because it's fricking huge and there's a high likelihood that they will be selling a good amount of things during the grand opening for cheap. I imagine close to the same amount of people would have shown up if they had actually built the thing, and just put up a sign that said "GRAND OPENING IN 3 MONTHS!"

I know that people in the past have started ad campaigns for products that don't exist and which don't even tell what the product is, just the brand name. My google-fu is failing me in finding these projects.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:03 AM on June 15, 2005


What the hell is a hypermart?
posted by odinsdream at 9:06 AM on June 15, 2005


'Beat the hell out of them', georgeTirebiter? Oooh, you go, you tough, strong, macho man, you!

Show 'em who's boss - with your FIST!
posted by item at 9:08 AM on June 15, 2005


"How do you attack the monster that is hype/commersialism/advertising?"

the answer to that is obvious.
posted by muppetboy at 9:11 AM on June 15, 2005


Actually, it was meant as a real point - I don't like people who feel they're so important that anything they do to someone else is justified. But if all I get is a weak, lame troll, then (shrug)
posted by georgeTirebiter at 9:13 AM on June 15, 2005


"I don't like people who feel they're so important that anything they do to someone else is justified."

"If it had been me in the crowd I'd have tried to beat the hell out of them."
posted by chococat at 9:22 AM on June 15, 2005


heh
posted by item at 9:23 AM on June 15, 2005


if you can buy seasons of the show on DVD?

Should it be freely distributed? What is the careful balance between using the commercial distribution system to broadcast an opposing view and holding to the tenets of that opposing view?

Can alternate views be espoused in mass media or does participating in the mass media void the views?
posted by ao4047 at 9:45 AM on June 15, 2005


What the hell is a hypermart?

The next level up from plain old supermarket--a multi-tiered grocery store, basically, with flower shops, shoe stores and such on the upper floors. I saw them in Latvia.
posted by Tufa at 9:59 AM on June 15, 2005


Should it be freely distributed?

Duh! Comercialism/Capitalism are teh evil.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:03 AM on June 15, 2005


Tufa writes "What the hell is a hypermart?

"The next level up from plain old
supermarket--a multi-tiered grocery store, basically, with flower shops, shoe stores and such on the upper floors."

Oh, you mean a mall.
posted by OmieWise at 10:05 AM on June 15, 2005


How do you classify that advertising campaign as an attack on hype/commersialism/advertising?

See, if enough people pull shit like this the public will stop trusting advertising. They'll see a commercial and think, "Yeah, whatever. I bet the damn product doesn't even exist." This attitude spreads, advertising loses its profitability, problem solved.
posted by pterodactyler at 10:21 AM on June 15, 2005


You besmirch the good name of the Firesign Theatre with the logical moebius strip you've created, George.
posted by wakko at 10:26 AM on June 15, 2005


Good post. Kinda reminds me of these guys.
posted by afroblanca at 10:58 AM on June 15, 2005


Good post. Kinda reminds me of these guys.

Abbie Hoffman would be proud.
posted by afroblanca at 11:01 AM on June 15, 2005


(Oops. Somebody delete first comment, please?)
posted by afroblanca at 11:02 AM on June 15, 2005


Since "the truth no longer has credibility"*, undermining the believability of hype is a good way to go. As pterodactyler sez.

george- "shoes for industry!" indeed.
posted by pointilist at 12:12 PM on June 15, 2005


Oh, you mean a mall.

Except it's all one store.
posted by 4easypayments at 12:13 PM on June 15, 2005


S@L, commercialism is not equal to capitalism. I suspect they are antithetical, in fact, since I suspect that commercialism leads to a high tolerence of oligopy. I don't feel like thinking in economics today, though, so I'll leave it at that.
posted by carmen at 12:17 PM on June 15, 2005


"This attitude spreads, advertising loses its profitability, problem solved."
And how does this help ordinary people looking for information relevant to their purchasing decisions, as opposed to spoilt affluent brats looking to score cheap points against "Teh Evul Capitalism" by wasting other people's time? Does it even occur to any of you that many of those people who made the effort to come out to this non-existent supermarket are living on highly restricted budgets, and weren't just dropping by out of some fickle desire to kill idle time? We aren't all plugged into hipster networks to tell us what to buy, and yes, some people do need to clip their coupons; for them, advertising can be a godsend - not to speak of the fact that a company willing to spend on advertising is one more likely to do its best to preserve brand equity by doing right by its customers.

I can't believe the childish cheerleading going on here. georgeTirebiter had it right: these idiots deserved to get their lights punched out for this "prank" rather than being congratulated. Even better, they ought to have their asses clapped in jail for false advertising. All those people who took the time and trouble to come out to that place were real human beings like you and I, people whose time and energy were worth something to them and could have been more productively spent than as unwitting extras to some yuppie scum's tasteless "anti-capitalist" humor.
posted by Goedel at 12:26 PM on June 15, 2005


Why would it be considered surprising/worthy of mocking that people showed up to the opening of a store that had been advertised? Maybe they wanted to buy some food.
posted by haqspan at 12:36 PM on June 15, 2005


Because the motto was

Don't Go. Don't Spend. Don't Shop.

(or something like that) meh...
posted by Debaser626 at 12:57 PM on June 15, 2005


Goedel, how are they wasting other people's time? That's just stupid. Were these people compelled to believe the ads? Maybe there should be some sort of Comission that carefully reviews every single piece of advertising? And you really have no idea what 'false advertising' actually means. And nice strawman, but do you really think these guys are against any and all advertising? Or is it a specific kind of advertising marked by these sorts of 'shock-and-awe' campaigns?
posted by nixerman at 1:07 PM on June 15, 2005


Still trying to figure what monsters TV Nation killed.

A good prank would be nice. Been a while.
posted by surplus at 2:35 PM on June 15, 2005


The film is actually a lot more subtle than just an all out "attack" on commercialism and advertising. There's very little editorialising in the narration, there's some fascinating insights into how marketing people work, and the people who were duped are given their say, not patronised or spoken down to. (It's still extremely funny, though - but anyone who looks foolish, looks foolish largely through their own efforts.)

One of the things that makes it interesting is that, at the time the stunt was pulled, the Czech government was spending millions and millions on advertising a "yes" vote in a referendum on joining the EU. Millions and millions, with the same advertising agency who created the spoof campaign. Some of the statements made by the advertsising guys, about how they get a kick out of controlling people's behaviour, looks a little different in that context.

There's one brilliant scene where the advertising people refuse to lie in the campaign. They're adamant - they do not lie. They manipulate, they spin, they suggest, but they don't tell untruths. The film makers just look at them, baffled. It's one of those perfect "how you react to it says more about you than about them" moments.

Also, the ad jingle for the hypermarket still won't leave my head. Cesky bloody sen.
posted by flashboy at 6:17 PM on June 15, 2005


OmieWise : "Oh, you mean a mall."

Something more like a department store: a mall is both far, far larger, and contains multiple shops with different owners.
posted by Bugbread at 8:09 PM on June 15, 2005


Afroblanca: thanks for the link to the Yes men.
posted by Termite at 11:53 PM on June 15, 2005


Since "the truth no longer has credibility"*, undermining the believability of hype is a good way to go. As pterodactyler sez.

No, it's not a good way to go. It undermines the most useful forms of advertising (those that alert you to the existence of a product you didn't know about) and leaves useless advertising unscathed (everyone knows Coke and Nike and so on really exist; no one's going to think they're pranks).
posted by pterodactyler at 3:13 AM on June 16, 2005


Meijer Thrifty Acres would be a good example of a hypermarket. Groceries, clothing, hardware, toys, crap to buy of every sort, all under one store name. The word perhaps hasn't made it to the States, even if the store concept has (Walmarts that I've seen haven't sold groceries). The word is used in South Africa, for sure, but I don't recall seeing it in the UK (Superstore is used) or Germany (Real is the example I know there).

As for fighting commercialism: Lost cause! rebellion has been preempted by [insert brand name here]. One of my pet theories about the 60's upheaval was too much too fast, then it all ended when Madison Avenue got into the game, about the time of Woodstock. Now rebellions are carefully controlled by making sure the advertisers get into the game. As soon as its labeled and packaged, its no longer a rebellion, because that's the way people choose to view it.

Now, if you could get people to stick to the rebellion in spite of the advertisers, you might get somewhere.
posted by Goofyy at 4:17 AM on June 16, 2005


If anyone knows about similar pranks/other relevant stories (23skidoo wrote: "I know that people in the past have started ad campaigns for products that don't exist and which don't even tell what the product is, just the brand name. My google-fu is failing me in finding these projects.") please post them!
posted by Termite at 5:16 AM on June 16, 2005


Goedel: "...the fact that a company willing to spend on advertising is one more likely to do its best to preserve brand equity by doing right by its customers"

This is a fact?
posted by Termite at 5:21 AM on June 16, 2005


Termite : "Goedel: '...the fact that a company willing to spend on advertising is one more likely to do its best to preserve brand equity by doing right by its customers'

This is a fact?"


It's not a fact, but it is a high statistical probability.
posted by Bugbread at 6:24 PM on June 16, 2005


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