Like many of you, we went to see Sex and the City over the weekend. And like many of you who live in the city, we squealed with glee when anything that was close to our city life showed up onscreen. “OMG, that’s Buddakan, BUDDAKAN,” we hissed to our friends, hoping to be the first to identify the location of Carrie and Big’s rehearsal dinner. “We’ve eaten at that table.” And so it went with the club they drink at in the final scene (actually a design store, and WE’VE BEEN THERE) and the reservoir in Central Park (WE’VE JOGGED THERE! Okay, sat). So you will understand, we hope, that the first time New York Magazine was mentioned, we gasped. We do that sometimes. It was when Miranda, defending her borough, claimed that New York said, “Brooklyn is the new Manhattan” (We did! Sorta) and someone replied, “Whoever wrote that lives in Brooklyn.” (He does!) We felt a little smug for a few moments, having made a brief cameo in the Film of the Moment. Then, later in the movie, Miranda claims that New York called Chinatown the hot new neighborhood. We actually didn’t ever say that, in particular, but we’re sure we implied it in some list or another. Two mentions! Exciting! But then came the third, final reference: The camera lingered across the cover of our 2007 Real Estate issue, atop a pile of magazines. We were officially suspicious. Did our magazine pay for this product placement? Were we no better than Bluefly.com? Or, gulp, Vitaminwater?
Yesterday morning, once everyone was in the office and appropriately caffeinated, we decided to do some investigating. We got up out of our fabulous window cubicle (it overlooks the Holland Tunnel!), walked all the way across the office, and cornered New York’s communications director, Serena Torrey. “Did we pay to be in Sex and the City?” we demanded. Turns out, we didn’t. New York is so ambient in the city environment that cinema prop masters hunt it and use it for free. Sometimes, they even ask! “The only way we’d have been able to pay for placement in SATC is if we’d spent the last forty years collecting loose change from the cushions of New York Magazine’s office couches,” Torrey explained to us, in a statement (we got a statement!). “That’s a frightening prospect, given the state of some of those couches.” Can you believe the level of reporting we achieved here? “Brooklyn is the new Manhattan,” Torrey went on (and she lives in Manhattan!), “and lucky breaks are the new brand-exposure strategies.” Well, lucky breaks and Internet phenomena that pretend to be about something but are really just about getting you to buy a product. But, yeah, mostly lucky breaks.
Related: ’Sex and the City’: A Product-Placement Roundup [VF.com]