We didn’t see the new Halle Berry thriller The Call this weekend, but your former editor Tonya Garcia and our current colleague Donya Blaze did — and this morning they alerted us to a case of product placement that somehow doubles as a big old PR fail for the makers of the “prepaid” TracFone (anyone who’s seen The Wire knows what we’re talking about here).
Berry stars as a 911 operator/professional perm model tasked with saving a kidnapped teenager from a serial killer. The victim calls Berry from the killer’s trunk but cannot give her location. More importantly, emergency dispatchers are unable track her because she’s using a “disposable”, untraceable prepaid cell phone which happens to be clearly marked with the logo of its maker, TracFone. It’s a nice plot twist, but there are a couple of problems: first, it’s fiction; second, it doesn’t reflect very well on the brand.
Being media-savvy professionals, Tonya and Donya immediately recognized the bad PR and let the world know on Twitter:
Just saw “The Call.” Quoting @donyablaze: “This is a PR fail for Tracfone.” LOL. Yes indeed.
— Tonya Garcia (@tgarcianyc) March 25, 2013
TracPhone’s media team quickly responded to clarify that its phones are, in fact, traceable and serial killer-proof: