Would you hold it against me?

Britney Spears’s “Hold it Against Me” music video may not be as shamless as Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” for product placement, but it’s pretty bad nonetheless.

Instead of making more of an advertisement/commercial out of the products like in “Telephone,” “Hold it Against Me” flashed the products at you. The placement of the brands can even be considered subliminal advertising because of the rate at which they are flashed. I first noticed this when they kept flashing a camera lense. After about a minute and half, I then learned that this camera lense was supposed to represent Sony. Then I realized that that’s probably why the scene was set in a tunnel of hundreds of Sony screens and monitors. If I could tolerate the video, I would love to go back and count how many times the name Sony then appeared. It was actually a ridiculous amount of times, but I guess this makes sense since Britney Spears is signed by Sony Music.

In addition to Sony, the mysterious Plenty of Fish website that was in “Telephone” made another appearance. I guess Britney’s looking for a new man because she was also on the website browsing the postings. And, might I add, on a Sony laptop, of course. Perhaps that’s why she was experimenting with the Make Up Forever brand eyeshadow and danced around with her new fragrance called “Radiance.” I must say, she did look radiant in the video, so I’ll probably be rushing to the nearest store that sells them really soon!

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Product placement is, for the most part, a generally accepted fixture of most television shows and movies released nowadays. But only when it is seamless. We see a character casually pulling a Coke or a Heineken out of the fridge, and, unless it’s done in a particularly egregious manner (such as a close-up shot of the ice-cold beverage held for a second too long), we are unfazed, or, not particularly offended. Bad product placement, however, is an entirely different animal. You can tell you’re in the presence of bad product placement when film characters start expounding on the virtues of product X, in such a way that you’re thinking, “And how, exactly, is this relevant to the plot?”. And in that moment, we, as seasoned viewers, feel a certain superiority in having seen through the farce, thereby confirming our self-delusional belief that we are immune to advertising. So then again, bad product placement might not be that bad after all.

One episode of the Colbert Report pointed out some laughably obvious examples culled from the soap opera “Days of our Lives” (link is attached below). Cue the close-up shots, the excessive praises, and the unnaturally long discussion involving whole-wheat Cheerios.


The problem here is that the dialogue is serving the product, and not the product serving the dialogue. There is virtually no distinction between this and a traditional 30-second spot for TV. The whole point of product placement is its subtlety/integration into the fictional world created by the filmmakers. Think of the Nokia phones in The Matrix. At the time I saw that movie I wasn’t old enough to be carrying a cellphone around (you probably can’t say the same about ten year-olds in 2011), but I knew I wanted one. It had the spring-loaded black cover and Neo used it to answer Morpheus’ calls. It was cool because it didn’t need to tell us that it was cool.

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stop callin’, stop callin’

Lady Gaga may not wear brand name clothes, but she certainly uses name brands in her music videos. In her Telephone music video, featuring Beyonce, she complimented her obscure outfits with everyday brands.

In one of the first scenes of the music video, she walks out into the jail courtyard and pulls out her Virgin Mobile cell phone. In the next scene, she has a weird hairdo with Diet Coke bottles in her hair and puts on Chanel sunglasses. The camera then focuses on an onlooker, who has no other association with the film other than to advertise the Rayban sunglasses.

After more placement of the Virgin Mobile cell phone, she then gets access to a jail computer and goes on the website Plenty of Fish. From the scene, we learn that it is an online dating and matchmaking service for singles.

The rest of the video is completely incoherent (not surprising) and somehow incorporates Wonder bread and Kraft’s Miracle Whip. For some reason, Lady Gaga decided to make a sandwhich with those two ingredients. And, of course, the video also flashes the brand Polaroid at us too.

Lady Gaga once said she was a student of famous, and this music video really demonstrates that. She is certainly learning quickly how to bring in extra money through product placement.

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Product Displacement?

I know that when I think of product placement, I always think of it as a business deal. In other words, I assume that the company paid to have their product placed there. But, a lot of the time product placement can be unintentional without any payments. In fact, there is even such a thing as “product displacement” where companies have their products misrepresented. For instance, since that has happened before, Mercedes Benz won’t allow their products to be portrayed in unflattering lights. And, from a specific movie, Amtrak now won’t let people use their logo if it is portrayed in an ill-fated scene.

But, the funniest example I can think of which involves unintentional product placement is that of “Jersey Shore.” Abercrombie and Fitch offered the trashy cast of MTV’s reality show “Jersey Shore” a huge sum of money to never wear their clothes again while filming. The company felt that the association to “Jersey Shore” is contrary to the aspirational nature of the Abercrombie and Fitch brand, and it may be very distressing to many avid Abercrombie and Fitch shoppers.

So, most of the time product placement is a business deal between to companies. But, every once in a while, you find that the placement is unintentional and can even be considered destructive.

For more information about the “Jersey Shore” and Abercrombie and Fitch deal, read: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/18/business/abercrombie-offers-jersey-shore-cast-a-paid-non-product-placement.html

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Reverse, Reverse

Have you ever seen a restaurant or brand in a movie or television show and wished it existed in real life?  While some companies, like Pixar, have chosen to stand up against product placement by using fictional places in their movies (for example having the characters hang out at “Pizza Planet” instead of “Pizza Hut”), other companies have taken advantage of fictional brands and through reverse product placement actually created new brands. Thanks to reverse product placement, you can now enjoy seafood from Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in a restaurant completely based off of the movie Forrest Gump.


Another example of extremely successful reverse product placement is the Willy Wonka candy brand. Within the years following the release of the 1971 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a company called Breaker Confessions (eventually renamed Willy Wonka Brands and bought by Nestle) began selling candy from the movie such as the Everlasting Gobstobber, SweeTarts, Nerds, and Laffy Taffys.

But, they didn’t stop there. They also make use of the Golden Ticket as a way to market their brand, combining both product placement and murketing by creating  a game targeted at children.


Source: http://www.brandchannel.com/home/post/At-40-Wonka-Candy-Is-Greatest-Reverse-Product-Placement-Ever.aspx

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American Idol

So who do you think sponsors American Idol?

Think about it!

Keep thinking…

Give up?? COCA COLA!!

I heard that Simon Cowell is a huge fan of Coca Cola, but for some reason, I think that there is something else going on here…

Every single episode of American Idol, each judge has his or her own big red Coca Cola glass. You might also note that, for the most part, the judges are always wearing more neutral colored clothing. Perhaps they’re dressing like this to give the red cups an extra bold effect. Look how much the red cups stand out from the background!

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Footloose and Fancy, Maybe Not Free

Recently, producers released a remake of the classic 1984 film, Footloose. While those involved in the production process were careful to stick to the original in many ways, new products are embedded in the remake, while other products featured in the earlier version have been dropped.

For example, the iconic VW beetle, a sporty Formula V, that made its debut over two decades ago returns again to plug Volkswagen, and advertisements for the film feature images of the comeback car. While stars sport new shoes in favor of the old Nikes in the 1984 version, the red cowboy boots featured in the original also returned for the 2011 release. The red boots, perhaps the single most iconic and recognizable image from the film, serve to convert the motion picture into a full length shoe advertisement.

Furthermore, HSN now markets these red cowboy boots, in a clear example of horizontal product integration, a process through which manufacturers tout a product and use several forms of advertising and means of consumption to market it. In a similar move, the producers of the modern Footloose have released a magazine featuring outfits and fashions from the film in order to promote further sales.

Footloose has many official partners, including Greyhound buses, which are also featured on other poster editions. To encourage audiences’ continued interaction with the product, far after the film ends, Greyhound and other partners have introduced sweepstakes and other interactive features to ensure that those who see the movie will not soon forget it (nor will they put their pocketbooks away).

source: http://www.brandchannel.com/

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It’s everywhere…

Product placement isn’t just in the virtual world. True, you may see more ads when watching television or surfing the internet, but it’s also in our day to day lives — even in schools!

Marketers are targeting adolescents more than ever: there are vending machines with name brand snacks in most schools; some school buses now play Bus Radio, which is filled with youth-targeted commercials; sports scoreboards have logos on them; some schools take their students on fieldtrips to stores like Sports Authority; schools provide supplemental learning websites that are full of advertisements. The list goes on and on.

But, the most disturbing product placement is that of McDonald’s. Schools are now advertising for McDonald’s on their report cards. The campaign is supposed to support education by bribing students with good grades, behavior, and attendence with free Happy Meals.

(image from: http://adverlab.blogspot.com/2007/12/product-placement-on-report-cards.html)

While the schools benefit from the product placement by receiving money from the companies, I don’t think it’s quite worth it. Perhaps they can raise more funds through different means.

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The Game Show Network is notorious for horrendous product placement. Sometimes finding the ads can be even more entertaining than the program itself.

Most of the shows have one sponsor that they advertise throughout the program, and they make absolutely no effort to make it less obvious. They might as well hang a giant banner with the sponsor’s logo in the background of the show.

The Newlywed Game has the participants write their answers on cards that are printed with the eHarmony logo. Then the host reads one question that is sponsored by eHarmony. However, her script seems more like an advertisement than an actual question. After she is done reading the question, an eHarmony ad appears on the bottom of the screen. And, of course, the commercials in between the show are filled with more eHarmony advertisements.

(note 6:55-7:05)

Catch 21 has made its sponsors obvious over the years. When Catch 21 was sponsored by Burger King, they would use “Burger King power chips.” When the host would place the chips in the contestants’ hand, he made sure to mention Burger King at least 3 times. The camera would zoom in on the power chips, which contained the Burger King logo. This lasted roughly 15 seconds. And, when the show was sponsored by Hellman’s Mayo, they had the Hellman’s “Real Mayo” slogan and logo on all of the cards.

(note 1:16, where the audience notices that they are no longer sponsored by Burger King and 1:30 for a close up of the cards)

GSN is full of all types of entertainment!

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Turtle, Get the Maserati

In honor of Mark Wahlberg’s Entourage, a program which started as a cult HBO series and became a mainstream prime time sensation, and its series finale earlier this fall, we’re dedicating a post to taking an inside look at product placement in the show. Perhaps no other hit program has featured so many advertisements for cars, booze, clothing, and everything in between. Furthermore, any product embedded in Entourage is automatically cool. What Vinny Chase uses, anyone in his right mind would want to use.

From Ducatis to Maseratis to Budweisers and Urth Caffé, Vinny and his gang promote any and everything, and the show’s producers, and advertising partners, are well aware of this. As a result, each episode turns into a 27 minute plug of the latest electronics, automotive, and food products.

I took a look at one episode, “Drive,” which was released in 2009, and found a wide range of product placements throughout the narrative. In the episode, Vince’s friends mention David Letterman’s show, and Vince himself appears on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. The scene is even shot on the show’s set, and features an interview with Leno himself. If you watch carefully, even the subtlest of advertisements are suddenly clear; for example, Ari Gold has a GoDaddy.com mug sitting on his office desk.

Johnny Drama is the king of breakfast. He doesn’t often not cook breakfast, but when he does, he eats Cascadian Farms cereal and granola.

The boys stay educated by reading the LA Times.

Just bought a Cadillac, throw some d’s on that.

I didn’t even know what Gelson’s was, but when I saw Sloane with a bag, I knew I had to look it up. This takes product placement a step further, and it has me looking for store locations here on the east coast.

That’s one secret I’ll never tell. Xoxo, Gossip Girl.

Skyy Vodka is the limit.

If you don’t have an iMac, well then you…. don’t have an iMac. And you have no place working at Miller Gold Agency, either. Can you spell FIRED?!

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