a bottle of wine greets us at the table. the first time i encountered this was at one of those middle-class restaurants attempting to make its customers feel high-class (milestones). my immediate response was repulsion. i wanted to avoid falling into the trap. i ordered tea.
i recall when a bookstore i worked at years ago began accepting advertising for its “end caps” (chapters). it seemed so crass and manipulative. we weren’t promoting good books, text we believed in, we were promoting whatever we were being paid to promote. this is, of course, the nature of business. people who open chain stores are not in business strictly because they enjoy the service industry or believe in their product. they are most likely in it for the money. this financial philosophy guides decision making and creates unease in the store, restaurant, etc when the customer becomes aware of the game.
the other thought conjured by the wine product placement was how the advertising might easily turn off a portion of their clientele. how about those who don’t drink because they are recovering alcoholics or those who are, say, muslim, and do not drink due to religious belief? the restaurant’s willingness to repel a portion of its customer base attests to the fact that they are more interested in dollars than creating a welcoming environment for anyone hoping to purchase a decent meal.
this considered, perhaps product placement that is sure to offend a certain percentage of your user base is not actually good business. this raises the question of what good business practices are, and opens up the doors for all sorts of social and moral subjectivities. it’s probably much easier in the long run to say screw it, and be a coarse, vulgar capitalist.