Now playing song S

by Francois Joseph de Kermadec

Anybody working in the PR and marketing field will be able to tell you how much of a pain it is to put any kind of electronic device on an image. Indeed, not only do you have to pay for the right to show the device, you have to pay for the right to show what’s on the screen of that device.

Fonts, icons, titles, menus: almost everything on a computer screen is copyrighted. Unless the screen you show is running OpenBSD, there are very few chances you will be able to simply design it and go to print.

The same holds true when marketing a music player. Putting a song on the screen opens up the doors for endless lawsuits just as much as it does for juicy partnerships. Most advertising agencies and companies are simply not willing to pay a high price for such details and, therefore, end up putting a placeholder that they hope nobody will see.

The result? We commonly see ads featuring players tuned to “Creative Demo Track” by “The Creatives”. How original… In comparison, Apple always shows its iPod playing something real or, at the very least, displaying the best alternative: an Apple logo.

Sure, this is a small detail but it accounts for differences in perception between a product consumers will deem finished and one they will deem half-baked, an ad they will find thrilling and another they will regard as just OK.

Next time you look at a picture, take a few seconds to peek at the screen: its contents reveal more about the company you are about to purchase from than the rest of the ad.