Tag Archives: product placement

“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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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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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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