Wednesday, March 22, 2017

It's So Obvious

Have you ever been watching a movie or TV show and the product placement shown is so obvious it hurts? I remember back when I was a little younger and had to try and guess what the product was like when someone was drinking a soda pop and have a blue can and you could see the start of a red circle of a Pepsi logo peeking the edge of the can. Now it's so obvious within the shot what company paid to have their product placed in the scene.

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While most people think that movies is the big money maker of product placement, when actually television accounts for 71.4% of ALL paid placement and 75% of all broadcast-network shows some form of paid placement.

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According to an analysis, when a product is placed into a scene or shot it can ultimately be more successful for brands than the traditional advertisements, like common TV ads. It is proven to be easier to reach a seller if you can connect the value of a product to a viewer if they are emotionally invested in the story line it is shown in much more than when an ad is completely out of context. It is also completely easy to zone out, fast forward or skip ads nowadays. The crazy thing is how cost-efficient it is to have the product placement compared to the normal advertisements.

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When you see a soda pop can on TV or your favorite actor driving the fancy car you can’t help but wonder ‘How much did that brand have to pay for that?’ Surprise! Surprise! While sometimes it can be around thousands of dollars at least other times it is done for free. Movie and film will sometimes form an alliance with brands to place them in their shots while the product will work them into their sales.

Let us look at Hershey Foods, they didn’t pay anything in the movie industry to have Reese’s Pieces used in the film E.T. The iconic movie instead made an agreement that Hershey would promote E.T. with $1 million worth of advertising as long as they would place them in the movie. Think it was a good deal on their end? Lets just say Hershey’s profit went up by 65% during the movie’s running time.

After reading this far have you thought of any movies or tv shows that you can remember some product placement going on? Here are a few iconic/big scenes with some serious product placement. I don’t think I will need to point them out, you should be able to catch them.

I love some 90210 but one thing this show did not do is subtle showcase their Dr. Pepper placement. The video clip itself almost looks like a commercial and the layout of the cans looks like it is just too perfect. The first thing I think is why are they not pushed down in the ice to keep cold instead of laying on top! Along with the dialogue it was not, in my opinion, very good placement.

"Maybe if you stopped drinking so much Dr. Pepper!" said one. The other's reply? "We're on a road trip! Drinking Dr. Pepper is practically a requirement."

Another show that I love is New Girl and since it is more of a humor show when this product placement came out I laughed at the not so subtle in scene commercial they did. As they all pile into Coach’s car they make comments about how it is so room they could open a hat store in here and the tree on the screen is way cool for showing the gas efficiency.

In the movie White House Down the President has to get dressed to take care of some serious business when he goes to fight off some terrorist. In one scene when the bad guys go and grab his feet, actor Jamie Foxx yells “Get your hands off my Jordan's.” With a lot of emphasis when he is getting dressed and then following in the hand to hand combat some nice shots of the fly Nike's he is wearing.

Sorry for the bad video, it is all YouTube had

I think one of my favorite though is the music video for Lady Gaga’s song Telephone. Her music video was 9 minutes long which means it has plenty of time to throw in some nice product placements. The Gaga/Beyonce video contained quite a few shots showcasing Coca Cola, Miracle Whip, Polaroid, Virgin Mobile, Hewlett Packard,Beats, HoneyBuns, Wonder Bread and Plenty of Fish dating website. While yes, some of these placements were paid placements others on the other hand were just Lady Gaga’s idea. For example the Diet Coke cans that she used to curl her hair were a tribute to her mom that did the same thing growing up. So sometimes you do have to pay while other times your company might luck out and someone will advertise freely because it means something or another.

Note this video can be a little PG-13 and it also is a little (maybe a lot) but that is Lady Gaga's style

Along with television and film, product placement is also in music videos like we see above and also is now coming out on social media platforms.Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitters and all in between. Youtubers will gladly wear some free clothing and advertise a company, along with the other social media stars. It is crazy to see the influence that these films, shows and celebrities have on the impact of sales and positive correlation.

No matter how you spin it though product placement is not going anywhere. When done correctly and in a realistic sense it can add to the show. Other times though it is a little obvious when they show it and even other times when they try to avoid it (like a blurred out logo or tape across it.)

The definition of product placement is the promotion of branded goods and services within the context of a show or movie rather than as an explicit advertisement. I hope that the industry keeps it to the limit it is because I do question if someday in the future the placement is could become in scene commercials. I also think that the audience could stop it with their opinions and prevent it but sometimes money runs more than we can control as the viewers.

Discussion Questions

1. What films, tv shows, videos, etc. can you think of that have some good product placement and others that is cheesy or way to obvious? What do you like about it?
2. Are there certain products you associate with movies or vice versa?
3. Do you think this is good or will it end up running the film industry and turn the scenes into more of a in scene commercial instead of what it should be?


  1. I think the most egregious example of product placement that comes to my mind is in the shilaboof transformer movies. It was literally everywhere, Mountain Dew, Cisco, Pepsi, Xbox, you name it. The worst part is when the Mountain Dew Machine transforms into a robot and starts murdering civilians. Something about that just ruins my ability to suspend disbelief.

  2. After I learned what product placement was, I thought it was fun to look for it in movies and TV shows. That's when placement is subtle. I still like to look for it now. The examples you shared were perfectly annoying...meaning that your examples were great because they were so obvious they were annoying. I especially thought the Dr. Pepper placement was funny because of the blatancy. It is interesting, though, to watch older shows like 90210, and see what the norm was in that era. My first thought was that the blatancy was the norm, but then I remembered watching 90210, and a lot of the scenes were overly perfect, even for the '90s. I like the ideas you wrote about Eric. Again, when product placement is subtle, it's fun to look for it.