Monthly Archives: November 2011

“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.


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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 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.


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