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First things first: The Boing Boing Video episode above is a paid ad for Cheetos. It contains subliminal messages. For real. It is also a security bulletin produced 50 years ago in the future by the citizens of Soviet Unterzoegersdorf, regarding the detection of a package containing mysterious, orange, cheesy particles presumed to be American in origin.
Normally we'd just run this as an ad alongside our editorial content, but I love it and there's a complicated story behind it, so we're running it on its own. Now, allow me to explain further. Warning, I am about to get all meta on your ass.
Boing Boing Video relies on sponsorships to do all of the weird, unfettered, free-speechy internetelevision you (hopefully) love us for. Cheetos approached us recently about sponsoring BB-V, in the form of six one-minute video ads we would create for them, which would run alongside regular BB-V episodes. They were remarkably hands-off and cool about the creative — the only editorial guidance we received was pretty much: don't be mean (don't do anything involving Cheetos that would make someone cry, particularly kittens), and avoid anything having to do with sex, violence and drugs. While they did not specify this, I also figured Nazis, pedophiles, 4chan (see previous), or Hugo Chavez (eye-roll) would be bad news.
Together with the Boing Boing Video crew (Wes, Derek, Jolon) and the BB bloggers (Pesco, Cory, Joel, Mark, et al), we thought up a bunch of stuff we might do in the ads. We came up with lots of cool ideas, and shared them with Federated Media, who sell our sponsorships. But when all of those notions were laid out and storyboarded for video, none of them were sufficiently awesome, subversive, Boingy, or weird. So, I did what I usually do when I'm in that dilemma. I pick up my internet and I call Johannes Grenzfurthner of monochrom.
Fast forward to the end of a long, coffee-fueled phone call, me in LA, him in Vienna. monochrom agreed to produce the 6 ad spots for Boing Boing Video, but with one requirement — they do so in the Alternate Reality of Soviet Unterzoegersdorf, which is currently the subject of a game they are developing. Also, they will probably work Cheetos into the game, not because they or we are getting any money for that part, but because it's ridiculous and meta and whatever — it's very Johannes.
Now Johannes didn't tell us exactly what they were going to shoot for the Cheetos ads. But he said that in order to shoot them, they urgently needed us to overnight them as many bags of Cheetos as possible, to Vienna, and do something clever on the customs form so that we would avoid problems with the tight-assed German or Austrian customs agents. I did all of that on Friday. I ran around LA buying Cheetos of every flavor and form factor (see snapshot above). I crammed them into plastic-lined FedEx boxes, drove to a big FedEx shipping center, and paid $140 to get $10 worth of Cheetos to Vienna by Monday morning.
I fudged a little bit on the customs form, to avoid the possibility of a food-related quarantine. I said they were "internet video props." Turns out German customs agents didn't like that much, and the boxes ended up being held in customs, because Frankfurt authorities thought they were drugs. There were many more phone calls to and from FedEx international agents, German customs, Austrian customs, and Monochrom. I am not lying. They thought Boing Boing Video was smuggling drugs to Austria.
As I type, the monochrom-bound Cheetos are still being held somewhere. I think we're going to have to pay a bunch of money to have them released. Johannes and his crew produced this first piece without them. When we saw the video, it was so insane, and the ordeal behind it so unreal, I don't know, I just felt like posting it solo was the right thing. Flame me in the comments if you disagree. But whatever you do, please watch it. Thanks to our sponsor for being rad. This is the part of the blog post where I say, "Cheetos Boredom Busters," and disclose to you that I am eating Cheetos at this very moment. And this is the part where I say, do svidanya, tovarishch.
Boing Boing Video