“He’s not selling out…he’s buying in”

For those who have been following us the past month, we hope you have learned how to spot product placement and just how prevelant it is today in all forms of media. If you find product placement interesting, you should check out the new documentary “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold”, a documentary “about branding, avertising, and product placement that is financed and made possible by brands, advertising, and product placement.”  The movie basically shows the  filmmaker, Morgan Spurlock, on his quest to find brands willing to insert product placement into his movie. Clever, right?

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“Breaking Bad” Product Integration

I’m about to make a confession that might draw some gasps from the audience: I don’t watch that much TV. Oops. My method of watching usually revolves around finding a well-established show I’ve never seen before, digging up all the existing seasons on DVD or the Internet, and ravenously consuming it all in the space of a few weeks. Anxiously waiting a week or more for the next episode to resolve a cliffhanger? Not my style. Anyway, at this moment that show is Breaking Bad, which I can’t praise enough for its visceral acting and nerve-fraying tension. I was surprised, then, when early into season 4 a clever example of product integration almost slipped past me. The key word here is “integration,” due to the relevance of the product to the screenplay/plot. It was done in such a way that it could be justified without betraying loftier artistic goals. If you have yet to see season 4 of Breaking Bad, or plan to at some point in the future, you might want to stop reading immediately. Spoiler alert!

At the end of season 3, Jesse Pinkman, the troubled hero of the show, is forced to kill a man at point-blank range. The first several episodes of season 4 deal with his post-traumatic, progressive unhinging into spiritual death. In two episodes, he is seen playing a violent first-person shooter video game, gunning down hordes of bloodied zombies or crazy, lunatic human beings, while suffering flashbacks of his real-life murder. After seeing this video game on the show (I’m not much of gamer either), I looked it up online and discovered that it was a real game called Rage, which could easily be bought in Amazon or a thousand other places. It is an unusual, but interesting, form of product placement, since there isn’t much positive value attributed to it as framed by the narrative of Breaking Bad. Sure, the graphics and gameplay look attractive enough, but in the context of the show, Rage only furthers the progressive disintegration of Jesse Pinkman’s sanity.

If any doubts remain that this is an example of product placement, then this next video should dispel them:

The easter egg reference to Breaking Bad very clearly reveals a mutual agreement between the two parties, one which surely yielded profitable results for both of them.

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Because the world needs more Rebecca Blacks

If it isn’t enough that people like Rebecca Black are able to go viral without any help, we now have to worry about companies like VideoViralViews pushing videos viral in order to make money on advertising through YouTube product placement. Companies are now able to buy YouTube views and Itunes ratings and comments in order to push a video into the spotlight. In return, they get free advertising on a video that will be seen by millions. Maybe money can’t buy happiness, but now at least it can buy popularity!

I bet there wasn’t an advertisement before this video when Rebecca originally posted it…

Happy Friday y’all.

Source: http://productplacement.biz/201110213703/branded-entertainment/videoviralviews-com-helps-songs-videos-and-apps-top-charts-at-itunes-and-introduces-youtube-product-placement.html

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You make counting look so delicious

Skittles Riddles Math      Cheerios Counting Book

Hershey's Kisses: Counting Board Book       The Oreo Cookie Counting Book

While our main focus thus far has been product placement in movies and television, we want to show just how ubiquitous product placement really is. For all those out there who think that books are immune to the typical shady business practices of other forms of media, think again. In fact, it is actually difficult to find kids books that do not center around popular brands and popular TV shows (if you know of a generic counting book please share the title in a comment!). The above examples are great because they cover many of the topics we have addressed so far: product placement geared towards children, product placement in the form of games and interactive tools, and product placement in less obvious places. What happened to the good ole days when kids used rocks and marbles to learn to count?

Product branding in the UK

In the U.S. of A., product placement is a fact of life. This blog should be a testament to that. It might come as a surprise, then, to find out that in the United Kingdom there are restrictions to this marketing strategy. However, last February the UK’s media regulator, Ofcom, released its vice-like ethical grip on surreptitious advertising, and slowly but surely opened the door for product placement. In the past few months branded products started popping up on weekend and daytime shows, while the grandaddy of them all lurked around the corner–prime time. With the inclusion of product placement in the soap opera Coronation Street (which I’ve never heard of), that has now changed. Apparently the soap ” will feature a branded ATM in the street’s fictional corner shop,” according to Adweek.com. Not the flashiest of products, I must say, but how wonderfully appropriate to launch a new era of advertising than with a cash machine! Perhaps executives felt it was better to kick off with something that accurately represented their interests.

Doing a little bit of research on Ofcom’s website I found some interesting information. From the FAQ section on product placement:

How can products be placed?

There must be ‘editorial justification’ for a product to be placed in a programme.

That means the product must be relevant to what the programme is about. The content of programmes shouldn’t seem to be created or distorted, just to feature the placed products.

Programmes also can’t promote placed products or give them too much prominence. So there shouldn’t be any claims made about how good a placed product is, or so many references to a product that it feels like it is being promoted.

Editorial justification you say? Ha, I’d like to see how that flies in the U.S. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of restriction of the sort in this country. See this Days of our Lives clip for evidence. Check this next question out:

How will I know if a programme contains product placement?

If a UK programme contains product placement, the TV channel has to show a special logo. This will let viewers know that the TV channel or the programme-maker has been paid to include products in that programme. The logo is pictured below – there are two versions so that it can be used on a light or dark background.

Can you imagine this happening in American television? Unthinkable! Spending a couple of hours watching TV can jade even the most innocent of viewers, so I think it’s a very nice and sweet touch that UK programmers go to the trouble of letting the audience know they’re being swindled. Two thumbs up for Ofcom!

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At Least They’re Getting Creative

Not all advertising is neccessarily as “sneaky” as the examples we’ve shown you. Sometimes, the more obvious, the better. Some companies have figured out that perhaps instead of spending a lot of money on advertisements hidden in music and movies that people might not even notice, they can be more successful by turning to guerilla marketing, and having begun placing their products in more unsual venues.

Take a look.

Yeah, its that small.

How's that for product placement?

Forget whereever you were going, grab your bags and head to the casino!

This is what they mean when they say advertising is ubiquitous.

Source: http://www.designer-daily.com/cool-and-creative-guerilla-marketing-campaigns-13471

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What better way to make a profit and live up to your movie’s name than to include tens of embedded product placement, including advertising for nearly every athletic gear company in America? In Moneyball Brad Pitt wears everything from North Face to Puma to Adidas. One might say this is a conflict of interest but remember, they’re all winning in the end. What man is not going to buy whatever Brad Pitt wears?

North Face. Pepsi.




Southwest Airlines.


Pepsi again. One of the major conflicts in the entire movie is that the players want free Pepsi in the clubhouse.

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Verisimilitude vs. profit motives

Product placement is a widening practice. A NY Times article published recently talks about a new Spanish-speaking scripted series on ESPN Deportes, notable both for the fact that it is on ESPN and because it will be heavily integrated with products–something unusual for shows geared towards the Latin American market. However, what caught my attention in the article was the following excerpt:

Another benefit is “realism,” he [Juan Alfonso, vice president for international marketing and program development at ESPN International in Los Angeles] added, in that the appearances of actual brands “add authenticity” to the story about the young player, Chava, portrayed by Alfonso Herrera, an actor who was a member of a popular Mexican pop band, RBD.

The team for which Chava plays is fictitious, “but everything surrounding it is real,” Mr. Alfonso said, to build viewer interest in the tale of “big-time professional soccer in Mexico.”

“We didn’t want to have on a uniform the logo of a brand that doesn’t exist in Mexico,” he added. “It would kill the realism.”

Is “realism” a reasonable justification for product placement? Is it not possible to create a fully believable world without the use of recognizable brands? Has our reality become so inextricably permeated with brands that if we’re presented with a scenario devoid of them, we cannot connect with the characters or the story? This, to me, is what the producers are saying. To a certain extent I can buy into this premise, but it just seems so goddamn sad.

Kleenex = tissue, tissue = Kleenex

At some point in time we started calling a tissue a “Kleenex”, to search on the Internet “to Google something”, etc, etc. When corporations sink their teeth into the colloquial lexicon, that’s when we know there’s no turning back. Anyhow…my opinion is that Mr. Juan Alfonso drank the Kool-Aid (Oh man, I’m so clever) because his job depends on it. And that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean we should buy into it as well.

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“Were you also gay back then?”

Speaking of friends, how about the movie Friends With Benefits. The comedy contains multiple references to pop culture and product placement for several brands, most notably GQ (who conveniently put Mila Kunis on their cover the month the movie was released).

However, even more noteworthy is the negative product placement for Harry Potter. Throughout the movie, there is a running joke that Justin Timberlake’s character, Dylan, used to be a huge nerd who was obsessed with Harry Potter. Which is also awfully convenient considering Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows premiered just a week before Friends with Benefits. One of several instances poking fun at the movie:

[referring to the tattoo on his waistline of a small yellow lightning bolt]
Dylan: Check it.
Jamie: A lightning bolt?
Dylan: Eighteen. Wanted super powers.
Jamie: Yeah.
Dylan: I was a little into Harry Potter back then.
Jamie: Were you also gay back then?
Dylan: Harry Potter doesn’t make you gay!
Jamie: Okay.

Not that this had any effect on Harry Potter, considering the movie grossed 125 million in its opening weekend, while Friends with Benefits grossed a mere 18.5 million in its opening weekend.

We also can’t forget about the iPad Bible app reference; first because its just hilarious, and second because the rest of the movie was filled with Sony products, considering the movie was distributed by a company owned by Sony Entertainment. But it’s no surprise that Apple’s one product placement managed to trump Sony’s multiple attempts.

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Pottery Barn

Any Friends fans out there?

For those of you who are you, you may remember the episode “The One with the Apothecary Table.” Or, in other words, the episode about the Pottery Barn.

In the episode, Rachel buys an apothecary table from Pottery Barn and has it delivered to her and Pheobe’s apartment. Monica warns Rachel that Pheobe hates all mass produced goods and will disapprove of her new purchase. In order to keep the table, Rachel pretends that she bought the table from a flea market. Over time, Rachel continues to buy Pottery Barn items, still claiming that they’re all from the flea market. Eventually, Pheobe finds out the truth behind the furniture when she passes by the Pottery Barn store and sees that the window display is the same as her living room. She becomes extremely upset with Rachel, but still wants to keep everything. In fact, she notices that there is one thing in the display that Rachel hadn’t bought, and she feels as if she has to have it.

The entire episode is based on Pottery Barn. They incorporate the catalogue into the beginning and throughout the rest of the show, they show different Pottery Barn pieces. Ross and Rachel both advocate for the store, and Ross even says at one point, “Who doesn’t love Pottery Barn?” implying that all viewers should love Pottery Barn, or else there is something wrong with them.

In an interview with Pottery Barn executive Patrick Connolly, he said “phones light up with catalog requests every time it airs.” The producers of Friends definitely had huge success with this product placement.

The episode attracted much criticism for its blatant use of product placement. But, all in all, it was a really good episode. If you haven’t seen it yet, you definitely should!

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