Have you ever noticed how all the products in our lives show up in TV shows and movies? That’s no accident. In fact, companies pay thousands of dollars to have their products in blockbuster films and hit TV shows. They do this to remind you of their product, to make you think about it, to want it. This is called product placement.
What is product placement?
Product placement is a form of marketing that is based highly on your emotions and your opinions. If you see a product, say a Coke, in a movie like Transformers, and you like the movie, you subconsciously remember the Coke in the movie the next time you go out to buy a soda, You’re more likely to buy a product if you associate it with something you already have a positive view of.
How is product placement used?
Product placement is used in nearly every aspect of a film. For example, if the directors make a deal with Nike that the actors in the film can only wear Nike shoes, and Nike promises the directors 20,000 dollars for the making of the movie, then Nike will be the official shoe company in that film. Shoes, clothes, cars and food are all things that are advertised in movies, and we don’t even notice it. But if you see your favorite actor wearing Nike shoes in a movie, and then a week later see the same pair at the store, you’ll probably remember them and associate them with that actor, making you see them as a good thing. This makes you more likely to want to buy that particular shoe. Movies simply scream the names of dozens of products, calling you to buy them, and often it works.
Is product placement a bad thing?
Product placement in and of itself is not a bad thing. Directors get funding for their films and companies have their products in the public eye. But many people are worried about damaging the artistic integrity of the film, of companies having too much control over the movie. As long as the message the director is trying to communicate with the film is not affected, I personally don’t see this as a bad thing. After all, is you’re making a movie and in it the actor drives around in his new car, why not ask Ferrari or Porsche to pay for their vehicle to be the one everyone sees?
There is one exception to this though. Product placement when geared towards children is wrong. Children can’t distinguish between the product being their to convince them to buy a product and just being something they want. Product placement has an incredible amount of influence on them because it plays more strongly on their emotions, making the associations even stronger. As adults we can recognize that we are being advertised to and take steps to stand against it. But children cannot do this, they are simply being manipulated by product placement, so as it relates to children product placement is wrong.
Why is product placement so popular?
Major companies realize that for any given blockbuster film, there will be millions of people who go to see it. And having that much exposure is very good for a company. Plus, it’s a way of advertising where people can’t simple fast forward or change channels. It’s slipped into movies in ways that it’s right in front of you, but you can’t ignore it because it’s a part of the movie. If 20 million people watch the new Terminator movie, that’s 20 million people who see the products in that movie. It reaches far more people than standard advertising in magaizines and commercials. Companies love the exposure brought on by having you see their products and associating them with the movies you love.
My favorite example of product placement is the relationship between Dr. Pepper and Ironman. Whenever a new Ironman movie is released, Dr. Pepper puts it on their cans. In return, there is often a Dr. Pepper can somewhere in the movie. This is a win for both companies because Dr. Pepper gets advertising from having their product in the film, all the millions of people seeing the movie are exposed to the Dr. Pepper in it. And the Ironman franchise wins because all the people who already buy Dr. Pepper will see the Ironman ad on the can and will be more likely to go see the movie. This is a great example of companies working together to advertise to you.
Recently I watched an interesting documentary called “The greatest movie ever sold.” The film was all about how movie and TV shows are always trying to sell us something, about how the process of placing products in movies and what all goes on behind the scenes. While I won’t go into detail about this, I will tell you that companies do have a lot of influence on what happens in our favorite movies and that may not always be a good thing. I highly recommend watching the documentary if product placement interests you at all. It’s incredibly interesting and informative.
I hope this article has awoken you to the presence of products in our entertainment and how much influence it has on us. I don’t want to dazzle you with statistics or complicated terminology, I want to show you a simple truth and to help you form your own opinions about it. Let me know what you think, is product placement a good or a bad thing? Should it be banned, as some people suggest? Comment below, email me or follow me on Twitter to send me your thoughts.
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