Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Product Placement

An editorial by Britt Bergman, co-founder of Very Little Known Facts.

As I’m sure most of you know, I consider myself quite the Renaissance Man of the Year when it comes to careers. Here is a mere fraction of the items I could add to my résumé, should I so desire:

  • neon sign fabricator
  • nanny
  • spool mover
  • demolition crewmember
  • caretaker to a man with brain damage
  • country club snack bar attendant
  • product reviewer
  • hauler of canned goods
  • international fax technician
  • alternative health web site customer service representative
  • ceiling fan installer for an alternative health web site
  • wedding deejay
  • guy in bear costume
  • web designer
  • blogger (paid and unpaid)
  • search engine optimizer
In my current position as copywriter for a purveyor of professional quality sports equipment and sports-related paraphernalia, I have encountered new challenges. People often ask me, “Seriously, how much is there to write about custom ice hockey pucks?” Well, my friend, let me tell you—you can pretty much write as much as you want about custom ice hockey pucks.

Take the page on ice hockey tactics on our website. This page was the number one Google search result for ice hockey tactics, thank you very much, a position that we at Very Little Known Facts are quite familiar with. Here is a selection from the text as it existed before I came onboard:

Hockey tactics that work around defense everything in common with all other military defense strategies also developed over the last 2,500 years as well. The best defense it is said, is an excellent offense, and in any case, defense is less desirable. Even when we defend, we should have our goal on the opponents net. Misdirection the reason for a certain kind of defensive play, but for example, a defenseman who crosses over while going backwards will gain a certain amount of advantage, until the forward catches on to that he will switch directions as soon as he sees the leg position.

Truer words were never written.

But now I have a new bona fide to add to me curriculum vitae: product photographer. Specifically, photographer of chocolate hockey pucks.

I have heard tell that photographing food is especially challenging. Hey, guess what? They weren’t kidding. No sir.

When I first got the assignment I thought, No problem. Get out the old digital camera and take some pictures of chocolate hockey pucks. How hard could it be, right?

For starters, I work out of the home, and there are two dogs here who were very interested in the whole chocolate hockey puck business. So right there I had to shut myself off in my bedroom.

Then I ran into the lighting problem. I tried a few with the flash, but I quickly discovered that chocolate is an extremely glossy and reflective surface. I rigged up a light bulb next to the puck, but then we got into all kinds of melting action. Real cool.

I got a flash of inspiration at one point and tried to scan the chocolate hockey puck using the computer scanner I gave my dad for his birthday, which he returned to me because it was “too complicated.” My old-fashioned dad who can’t handle technology, I thought. Until I tried to scan a chocolate hockey puck. Apparently the people who designed the software interface for this scanner had some fairly high-end consumers in mind. I fired that puppy up and stared at the bewildering array of nonsensical options before finally getting something going. I guess the default setting was “molecular level scan” because ten minutes later it was up to 10%, and the file size was something like 150 megs.

Another hour of fighting with the scanner and it was back to the digital camera and the chocolate hockey puck posed suggestively on an old sheet draped across my bed.

How much should I say? Should I tell you about jury-rigging my tripod to lean at just the right infinitesimally slight angle as the puck? Should I recount the dozens of trips to the PC to plug in the camera, download the pictures, identify any number of problems, unplug the camera, remount it on the tripod, and start over? Should I mention the abortive Photoshop efforts that made the 100% gourmet chocolate look like it was covered with a thin layer of fuzz, or possibly mold?

Need I say I was reduced to tears?

By the end I sent the best of the lot off to my boss with a long note explaining that although I knew several professional photographers, obviously I was not cut out to join their ranks. My boss was quite happy with the results, though, pointing out that my photo of a chocolate hockey puck propped up on my old bed sheet actually looked much better than the previous shot done by an ad agency.

I just hope he doesn’t ask me to photograph his daughter’s wedding.


Gay Jesus said...

What does chocolate have to do with indoor soccer on ice?

Pops said...

All this talk of hockey pucks an not a single mention of Don Rickels? I had hoped for better.

And I hope that you did not confuse "wedding deejay" with a legendary group called The All-Star DJ's.