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relatively handsome for a writer

Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Tue 28
Aug
2007

Make Mine a Fukk

Syrup The Syrup film producers want to mock up some cans of Fukk. I think they are hatching some kind of promotion. They asked if I had a design in mind, and I said not really, but I bet if I mentioned it on my web site, somebody would come up with something good.

So here we are. If you invent a graphic design the producers like, they’ll mail you some of the mocked-up cans, and I’ll send you an autographed book, and the next time we’re all in a limo with Natalie Portman and she says, “I don’t wanna go home! Where can we party?”, we’ll suggest your place. Although that last one has never happened yet, so I wouldn’t count on it. Still: cans and book.

Your design should:

  1. be for an energy drink called “Fu*k” (as opposed to a cola called Fukk; that’s changed in the script)
  2. be shaped appropriately to be used on a can
  3. probably have a black background
  4. be cool

I’m thinking you may not need to be particularly fancy on this one, because understated is cool. But whatever you think. If you want to enter, email me.

Sat 18
Aug
2007

Your Future Career: Being Awesome

What Max Reckons

Aussies in Melbourne: I’m appearing at the Melbourne Writers Festival this coming week. See? I am too.

Let’s get this out of the way first: some parents tried to name their baby “@,” which is the name of a character in Syrup. I guess it’s a good month for real-life Syrup connections. Unfortunately the baby does not appear to be a blonde, slutty, backstabbing corporate villain, but still: I need to mention it because every newspaper in the world ran the story, and everyone who’s read Syrup (all seventeen of you, bless you) e-mailed me about it.

Going above and beyond, however, was Andrea, who also pointed me toward TatAD (“Bring your advertising to life!”), which is a company that brings together corporations who want to get their logos branded onto human skin and people who think that sounds like a pretty good idea:

Are you ready to start making some BIG BUCKS as a TatAD promoter? All you have to do is get our logo tattooed on you! Then get ready to cash in BIG TIME!

To its credit, TatAD takes the time to address the notion that getting yourself imprinted with a logo for money is some kind of sell-out:

You are already a walking billboard for your favorite companies simply by wearing their clothes or driving their cars or smoking their cigarettes.

You are a salesman for your favorite companies without a paycheck!

In fact… YOU PAY THEM!!!

Don’t look at it as the corporate world has initiated this, the people have, we had no potential sponsors when we began, only people who wanted to be sponsored.

When you look at it from that angle there is no corporate sell out, in fact it’s the other way around. We have the opportunity to get something in return for once.

It’s that simple, we’re all walking billboards anyway so why not get paid to do it

Now, I might quibble with TatAD that there is a difference between simply telling people about a product you like, and getting paid to be branded with logos. A few differences, actually. One of which is “credibility.” But that’s just details. What interested me most was TatAD’s supply and demand problem. Their forums are full of people people pleading to be tattooed, many being not too particular about with what, exactly. (My favorite: “Who wants my face?”) It’s clearly a buyers market: if you’re looking to imprint your logo on some flesh, you’ve got yards and yards to choose from.

So naturally you’d look for prime real estate: the young, the beautiful, the admired, and the desired—as opposed to, say, the guy who has “a few spaces left on my right forearm”. Sorry, dude, in advertising we call that clutter. It’s the same rules as celebrity endorsement: if you’re a sports star, Nike pays you to wear its products; if not, you pay Nike. But now the bar is much lower. You don’t need to be one of the best tennis players in the world; you can earn a little sponsorship money just by being kind of awesome.

Ideally you’re gorgeous, of course. That’s the kind of awesomeness that everyone understands. But I bet an admired DJ can make a few bucks from logo tattoos, no matter what he looks like. Or a college high jump star. Anyone who’s kind of awesome, even on a relatively small scale, I think can look forward to a bright future of ever-increasing options for turning their awesomeness into cash. A certain amount of shamelessness will be required, of course. But that’s a small price to pay for being able to make a career out of being awesome. After all, you were going to do that anyway.

Thu 09
Aug
2007

Giant Beach Balls

Syrup I’ve been working on a Syrup screenplay for a while now. Longer than I like to think about, really. Anyway, there’s a bit I’m using from the book where our hero, Scat, is trying to come up with a brilliant new idea for a Coke TV ad, and instead has a bad one:

I have started to wonder about the beach: about variations on a giant inflatable beach ball. I am thinking about this ball rolling through a major American city, with people running and screaming.

It’s the kind of idea that is stupid yet oddly attractive. I have lots of those. So, apparently does Pepsi.

Now come on. That’s Scat’s stupid idea. The only difference is it’s Pepsi instead of Coke, and people having fun instead of being crushed to death. And that change, frankly, was disappointing. I really thought I was about to see some mayhem.

(Thanks to Jake for the heads-up. So to speak.)

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