Branded – A Marketing Mind Control Acid Trip

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I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how to explain this movie and I’ve watched the trailer about a dozen times, but this is a strange one.  It’s been compared to the premise of They Live, but replacing the aliens with nightmarish “brand creatures” created by an evil advertising agency.

This evil agency, appropriately headed up by Max von Sydow, has cracked “the code” that controls human desire.  They use this code to control consumers and fill people with the desire to buy more, eat more, spend more.  And they would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids and their dog!

No…wait.  I really have to stop watching cartoons while writing.

The hero of this tale is Misha Galkin (Ed Stoppard), a formerly successful young advertising executive.  He left the world of corporate branding for 10 years after some heretofore unexplained on-set accident trashed his career.  When he returns, Misha discovers he has the ability to see these very surreal creatures working their mind-control mojo on the rest of the public.  It appears he is the only one who can see them, but why?  Hopefully the film will answer that question.

By the way, as you watch the trailer you’ll notice a ton of QR codes flashing on-screen, some for only a fraction of a second.  All the codes actually work and if you freeze the screen while the codes are showing you can scan them with your smartphone and get little extras.  Some are still images and others are videos, most of which are strange and some are downright trippy.  Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while viewing these extras.


After Misha skyrockets to the top of the advertising business, a tragic mishap on the set of one of his productions torpedoes his career and he retreats into self-imposed exile. Ten years later, Misha returns to a radically changed world and finds himself plagued by visions of bizarre and terrifying creatures with the ability to influence people’s thoughts, desires and actions. Creatures only he can see.

He soon realizes the creatures are part of a clandestine campaign unleashed by a rival advertising agency to make “fat the new fabulous” and create a new era of uncontrolled consumer appetite. In order to save mankind, Misha uses his own considerable marketing skills to launch an ingenious plan to try to eradicate the plague. But the corporate legions will not go down without a fight.

Branded, from Roadside Attractions, also stars Leelee Sobieski and Jeffrey Tambor.  It is currently scheduled for release on September 07, 2012.

Visit the official Branded website and follow along on the Branded Facebook page.

Tom Gardiner