Ad Space – It’s the Casablanca of Anti-Piracy Ads

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:
A clear conscience

The Promotion:

The Pitch:
Of course Casablanca was about preventing the sale of pirated DVDs … or at least it is now, since we doctored the original master.

Hey, remember the 2000’s, when entertainment companies (justifiably worried about the danger digital piracy posed to their business model) fought back with a bunch of ads that tried to guilt people out of it? Remember how histrionic and over-the-top they could get?

Well, this may be my favorite of the whole bunch.

Obviously, there’s the chintzy production value of the whole thing. Awkwardly cutting together movie footage with title cards that try to make it seem about something else – the “elevator music” playing over the whole thing – the fact that the title cards are written in what looks an awful lot like Comic Sans … all ripe for mockery.

Then there’s the hyperbole of the whole thing. I mean, a debate over the ethics of intellectual property escalates to one person pulling a gun on the other. Plus there’s how it explicitly says that, while it condemns pirating DVDs, it wants to assure us that “Making Time With Victor’s Girl: Good”.

Then there’s how it can come off as taunting. The footage they use is from a movie that was over sixty years old at the time, a movie many people feel should be in the public domain by now, but isn’t because big media companies like Warner Bros. lobbied for amended copyright laws – so they still have exclusive rights to use it to lecture us on not stealing from them.

But probably the biggest laugh is something you only get if you’ve actually seen Casablanca. See, in the movie, the thing Rick and Ilsa are arguing about? Ilsa wants to help their husband escape to America, but Rick is selfishly holding onto the only two travel passes that can make that happen. Oh, and the reason Ilsa’s husband needs to get away? Because they led a resistance movement against Nazi Germany, have already been sent to and escaped from a concentration camp, and need to get overseas before the Nazis capture and kill them.

Like, did no one at Warner Bros. look over this ad and say, “Wait … are we the Nazis in this scenario?”