It doesn’t matter who the participating parties are, my eyes can’t help but be drawn to old ads for cross-promotional contests. My brain feverishly attempts to work out the process which united these strange bedfellows, speculates about the winners, and wonders about the current status of their major awards. I assume most folks opted for the “cash equivalent” option for the top prizes, but surely some couldn’t resist the siren song of an official Lawnmower Man VR rig or a haunted house party with Clarence Clemons.
As a marketing tactic, it tends to suggest a certain degree of desperation — a failure of nerve brought on by pre-release jitters about the quality of the product, necessitating a little pot-sweetening and a cardboard display blocking two-way traffic in some retail aisle.
Did it ever help? I doubt it, but it wasn’t as if it could make things any worse….
…which certainly applies to the Miller Draft/Dragnet promotional contest of 1987.
I know there are folks out there who hold a minor degree of affection for the film, but it was a misfire from the get-go. A semi-satiric send-up of a show nobody but Dan Ackroyd gave a flying fuck about at the time, it feels like a rejected SNL skit padded out into feature length. It also has that unsettling…extruded…vibe of Reagan Era cynical cinema. Everything about felt like it emerged full formed from a focus group session, blatantly plastic and lacking remotely approaching a sense of authenticity. Too tame to be genuinely transgressive yet still dripping with a smirking, sophomoric sleaziness for sleaziness’ sake. Even slagging it feels like kicking a piece of styrofoam packing material around a vacant lot.
In other words, it was exactly the type of thing that stood to possibly benefit from a marketing partnership with America’s fifth choice of domestic dog piss.
The prizes aren’t half bad, despite the sunk-cost fallacy that came factory standard with all late Eighties Corvettes. It’s also little odd that the top three awards in a beer company promotion were motor vehicles, but what’s a DUI or three compared to putting one’s ass where Tom Hanks’ hinder once resided?
We actually had a Dragnet movie poster hanging in our room for a while. It wasn’t obtained through this contest, but through Lil Bro asking the dude who ran the Video Station (next to Ralph Bishop’s Seafood) if he could have it after it got pulled down to make room for a Police Academy 5 poster. I’m pretty sure we had it up until we moved in with my grandmother after our mom died, but I have no idea what happened to it after that.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a real promo contest without the requisite “void where prohibited” fine print. This one has quite the interesting spread of verboten states, and I assume it has to do with local restrictions on alcohol-related contests. Or the cost of shipping a shitbox prop police cruiser to Hawaii.