Why Cambridge should get into the soaps
I may be thousands of miles away, but I still got wind of the little storm about the Cambridge Communications Office having the cheek (or good sense) to try to “place” Cambridge stories with our favourite soaps.
I can understand the instant visceral reaction to this. I still haven’t quite got over the idea of “product placement” in movies. Naïve as I was, I hadn’t realised -- till I visited some movie studios in California a couple of years ago, and the truth was revealed -- that when Julia Roberts picks up a can of coke on screen, it’s not because she likes it, or because it necessarily fits with her character’s tastes. It’s because the Coca Cola company have paid for her to do it. I haven’t ever watched a movie in quite the same way.
But this Cambridge move is a bit different. What is the university supposed to do? Leave the media alone and let them come out with the same old picture of life among the dreaming spires? How many television plays have we seen, featuring a load of elderly blokes on high table. “Port or claret, master” says one be-suited, be-gowned toff to the other. And if it’s not the old codgers, then it’s blonde, white, be-blazered undergraduates, having dangerously tantric sex in a punt somewhere, when they should be writing their essays.
What is our Comunications Office supposed to do? Wait till more of this stuff appears, then write a prim letter to the BBC or whoever, to protest that Cambridge isn’t quite like that.
This soap idea was a brave attempt to take the initiative.
And anyway it’s not really like product placement, it’s more like the Archers. We all know what that “Agricultural Story Editor” does, the one who’s always features in the credits. He (or she) scripts Ruth and David chatting over the milking about the economic effects of Blue Tongue – and makes sure that we townies get the government’s message on the subjects.
It sees pretty fair game to me.
Besides, when a university is doing its very best to reach all the brightest kids, no matter what their background …yet still gets threatened by the government, and lambasted for not doing enough.. how do you expect it to react?
Think laterally of course. That’s what we’ve always been good at.