Marketing Geniuses Advertise Potatoes With 'The Martian'

Upping the ante on product placement.

Albert Bartlett is a potato company — the “UK’s favorite potato grower.” And its advertising agency just got a major boost from a photo that went viral: a DVD copy of The Martian plopped in front of some (overpriced) potatoes at an undisclosed grocery store location.

The Martian’s author, Andy Weir — with whom Inverse spoke back in September — took note, referring to this “cross-marketing” as “good.”

Turns out that Albert Bartlett’s agency, Hobbs Holmes Marcantonio, had set up a deal with some of the senior executives behind The Martian. After learning that the movie was coming out, the agency realized that this was “an opportunity too good to miss,” the Independent reported.

But it gets way better. In the words of Marcantonio himself:

“Unfortunately, by the time we contacted the production team on location in eastern Europe, they’d finished the potato sequences … But it got us thinking. And a cheeky suggestion that we produce a disclaimer for the film’s end assuring audiences that ‘no potato was harmed during the filming …’ gave us an ‘in’ with senior executives out in LA, who allowed us to view all potato-related scenes ahead of the film’s release in secret.”

Albert Bartlett is now offering an “all-expenses-paid family trip to the Kennedy Space Center as a competition prize.” And this image, below — now viral — seems to be one of the ways they’re advertising the competition.

For those who have not yet seen The Martian, choose one of the three following options:

  • Climb out of the rock under which you have slept for the past eon and watch the film.
  • Close this tab and continue to disavow popular culture.
  • Allow the ever-faithful servants at Inverse to catch you up to speed; read on.

In The Martian, Matt Damon spends some quality time all by his lonesome on the unforgiving, desolate, arid red planet. Among his unprecedented scientific and technological breakthroughs, he becomes the first human — thanks to his own ingenuity and excrement — to successfully grow crops — namely, potatoes — on a planet that is not our loving, caring planet Earth. And he proceeds to subsist on potatoes for a lengthy and perhaps unfathomable amount of time. Upon running out of salt, pepper, and ketchup, he turns to vicodin for seasoning.

In case your powers of deduction are limited on Mondays: Potatoes are important in The Martian and it’s hard to get an edge in the field; DVDs are likewise hard to sell. Ergo: cross-marketing.


This story was updated with more information about the advertisement’s source.