A9.com on The O.C.

If you’ve been following my Links page lately, you’ll know that I’ve been somewhat obsessed with the new Block View search for A9 and Amazon Yellow Pages. Amazon photographed virtually every street-level business in Los Angeles, among other cities, and it’s a very fun toy to play around with.

More recently, A9.com was mentioned in a small bit of awkward dialogue on Thursday night’s episode of The O.C. Waxy reader Eric Vaughan went to the trouble of finding and editing the clip. Watch it below, and judge for yourself:

theoc_a9com.avi (3.7MB, Windows Media)

Even though this appeared to be a clear example of paid product placement, A9.com’s CEO denies that it was paid for or that they knew anything about it.

This seems very unlikely, especially considering A9’s somewhat-obscure status in the non-geek world, the timing of the episode with recent publicity, and The O.C.’s use of the full domain name instead of simply “A9.” (Has anybody ever used/heard the term “A9.com’d” before?) I don’t even particularly care about the product placement, but I don’t like attempts at covering it up.

One way to settle the issue would be to contact Allan Heinberg, the writer of that episode, or any of the producers. I’ll try to do some research on Monday, but please e-mail me if you know anyone that might be able to help.

February 21, 2005: I have two reliable sources that confirm that A9 was not even aware of the O.C reference before its broadcast.


    The CEO’s quote in noteworthy. He says “This placement was not paid for by A9.com or Amazon.com”. That, of course, suggests that it may have been paid for by somebody else.

    Regardless, it’s indeed an awkward line. People Google, and people Amazon (as mentioned in “Committed”). But people don’t A9 yet. I’m sure people will eventually A9 for locations — it seems like a killer app, just like the Google Video app I just used (though “Committed” has terrible captions).

    To play devil’s advocate, there are a couple plausable reasons why they might have chosen to awkwardly verb A9. On Google’s trademark rules they say “Use the trademark ONLY as an adjective, NEVER as a noun or verb, and NEVER in the plural or possessive form.” The OC would have likely been hearing from Google’s lawyers if they had used Google as a verb.

    Also, like Carol says, they may have been trying to be too cool for school. It may have been that everyone uses Google, so knowing about something newer might be seen as being part of the in-crowd.

    Of course, it’s still hard to believe that the awkward phrase “A9.com’d” would be put in by a writer and uncontested by an actor unless there was money involved.

    It wouldn’t sound much more awkward had they said “No, but last night I http://www.a9.com/'d him and…”

    If it had *just* been a9’d, I’d be able to believe it was a misguided attempt to obey Google’s instructions and still seem hip. Even then, though, Yahoo’d would come off better.

    I just a9.com’d Caleb Nichol, to see if they’d maybe seeded a high result in there to trigger the start of an O.C. Alternate Reality Game. That’d be the only (very) cool outcome of this whole thing, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.

    As I remember, the OC is developed by an advertising firm… They’ve finally updated the site and I didn’t save the link, though.

    Paraphrasing George Hotelling:

    Google’s trademark rules say never use the trademark in the plural or possessive form.

    Isn’t “Google’s trademark” possessive?

    I’m going to disagree with Nick Douglas, who wrote, “People Google, and people Amazon.” People do not Amazon.

    I have never asked someone what they were doing and heard them respond, “Amazon-ing.” Nor have I heard someone use Amazon as a verb when discussing shopping: “I Amazon-ed some gifts for my friends.”

    People most certainly do Google, however. I Google things all the time, I’ve been caught Google-ing, and I ask people to Google things for me when I’m away from a computer.

    On that note, it’s worth pointing out that Google’s trademark rules have never stopped TV shows or other media from using Google as a verb. Gilmore Girls (WB) has used Google as a verb many times (the show tends to be accurately hip when useful, in a non-ridiculous fashion). I don’t think this issue had anything to do with The OC’s use of A9.com.

    i agree that it’s just a geeky case of the o.c. trying to be too cool for school. almost every episode has had insanely geeky and accurate comic book refs thrown in as well. must be the writer(s) trying to have their own little inside geek games with each other.

    Bruce – “Google’s trademark rules” definitely is posessive. I found them after I googled (or google.com’d) for them on Google’s site. I hope Google doesn’t google this entry and google me for trademark googling.

    Pretty sure it’s just the geeky writers and staff that put that in for reals. I mean they mention a bunch of unknown indie bands too and also those comic book refs like the other guy said.

    It does indeed seem to be a forced attempt at being hip. But that doesn’t explain dave pub’s point above. Why do they stick the .com at the end? It seems to awkward an error – someone, somewhere along the line would have thought to just say A9’d rather than A9.com’d. It just doesn’t make sense without more to the story.

    They had to add the .com so that people could understand. Since A9 is really obscure, adding the .com meant that people knew where to go. Google is too tired and popular. However, one cannot seem cool if no one understands what they’re being cool about.

    If they were going for true hipness without financial incentive, they could always reference a defunct search engine.

    “How could you not find the guy?? What, did you Magellan him?”

    This pretty much cements the fact that I have no concept of what true hipness is.

    Pictures of every major city, block, building

    available on the internet. Wonderful! Osama

    will be jumping for joy. They’ll save tons

    of money in travel and photography. May as well

    give them the keys too. How stupid of an idea

    in these times.

    Yes, Bob, you have seen through my nefarious plot to crash planes into local neighborhood businesses!

    There was some heavy product placement for the Sidekick on last night’s episode. Made me want to gag.

    I’m pretty sure that Sky Mangel from Aussie hit TV show Neighbours used the term ‘I A9.com’ed him‘ in a similar vain at some point last year. I’ve had a quick search around the net but can’t find proof of this – except for hearing it with my own ears.

    Maybe it was the same script writer??

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