Case in point: Electronics manufacturer LG has signed on as a "partner" for Dreamworks and Paramounts' "Transformers 2" (a partner being a company that ponies up a few million and gets some product placement, we can assume). To promote the partnership, LG got director Michael Bay to the CTIA conference last week to premiere a new trailer for the film and talk mobile phones.
And that's where things went really bad, as StarrTrek reported:
Michael was warmly applauded. Casually dressed, he seemed at ease as he took the mic, said hello, then said, “I have some big news: I’ve just been named the next CEO of LGE…” The crowd laughed.
Michael smiled again and then delivered a nice turd for his partners by saying “No. Seriously - I don’t know anything about mobile phones. In fact, look at my phone (which he held up) - it’s a Thirty-Nine dollar Samsung”
You could feel [LG mobile president Juno] Cho’s anger from across the room. LG people ran to get phones, Mr. Cho went up to Michael (who seemed oblivious to the enormous slap he’d just delivered to every LG employee’s face) and said, “Here now you have an LG phone” and gave him his own personal device. He took the mic back and quickly wrapped up the disastrous press conference. But not before Micheal could dish out a little more pain…”but all my contacts are in the other one” he said in a petulant voice.
Tech folks sometimes forget that in Hollywood, where talent is king and the industry is full of free agents with little corporate loyalty, there's not such a premium in staying on message. Michael Bay doesn't have much invested in LG doing well. So his motivation to stay on message here is pretty minimal. He's going to be himself -- the same self that usually charms (or repels) interviewers at junkets for his movies and wins him multi-million dollar deals to direct tentpole films.
So yeah, it's understandable that technology companies want some of that Hollywood stardust (and press attention). But it's a lot more risky than putting up a marketing VP with a teleprompter.