Friday, November 18, 2005

(back to) The Future of Product Placement


Product placement is a mixed blessing. Observe the "Back to the Future" Trilogy. These movies wouldn't be the same without it. From Steven Spielberg's cameo as a Marty-towing truck driver (wearing a Mountain Dew hat) in Part I, to the Tab joke in 1955, to the Pepsi Perfect in 2015, Pepsi is well represented in these movies (so is Calvin Klein, Nike, Pizza Hut, USA Today, Western Union, and Mattel...and it certainly was the best/only thing to ever happen to Delorean Motors).

Did all this product placement bother you when you first saw the movie? It certainly didn't bother me. I doubt I thought twice about it.

Go back and watch any 80's family classic, be it Ghostbusters, Innerspace, or E.T., you're bound to find some well-displayed logos mugging for the camera. Furthermore... wait, nix Innerspace. Even Martin Short wouldn't stick Innerspace between those two.

My point is, isn't this the best kind of advertising? It makes the movie more realistic--It always pissed me off when some sitcom character would have a box of "Donuts Donuts," or when Dad would catch his kid reading "Playpen" magazine--and it isn't jarring or disruptive to the movie experience.

Except when it is. I don't watch 24, but I heard recently that during a terrorist attack or whatever, the computer technician turns to the camera and says something like "Gee, this Cisco Brand (tm) security system sure is fantastic!" Not cool!

As my colleuage Mr. W. Stack, Esq astutely reminded me, Seinfeld was big on product placement. I saw that episode today when Seinfeld and Elaine keep offering people Snapple (It's the Virgin episode), and it's really funny. I don't care if Snapple paid for that exposure. It's well done. Snapple gets its name out there, Seinfeld seems more realistic, and there are some funny jokes. It wasn't just Snapple; Sienfield shilled for Häagen-Dazs, Bosco, Entenmann's, and Junior Mints, and it always worked.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about Pez? Do you think Pez paid to be on the show?

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love when an actual product is used antagonistically towards the protagonist. For example, in Steven King's Graveyard Shift, one character shoots via slingshot cans of Diet Coke at rats, only to later be attacked by a giant vengeful rat. Now everytime I drink diet coke, I feel the sweet, calorie free taste of verman vengence.

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Movies have gotten so lame these days. They used to be all about the product placement, now it seems hollywood and their elitist liberal friends are going for "realism" rather than the shameless plugging of products. Like "It", fantastic Americana, (not the clown, the 1928 romantic comedy) especially when the main character is a rich female who loves shopping at 5th ave's best.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Q. Meyers said...

I want to see this "Graveyard Shift."

7:36 PM  
Blogger ptm said...

The Goonies was on T.V. tonight as I was reading the good Doctor's post, and it was only in that context did I realize how blatant the Domino's pizza plug is at the end of the movie. But, yeah, it just doesn't seem crass or forced. Were we naive back then? Or were things just incorporated into the narrative better back in the day? Why does the Brosnan Bond pushing of a BMW seem more heavy-handed and selloutish than Connery's Bond driving an Aston Martin?

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

did you mean to say Martin short "wouldn't" stick innerspace between ET and ghostbusters?? i hope so...

1:55 PM  
Blogger Q. Meyers said...

What, you don't like Innerspace? Okay, yeah, that's a typo. And I'm going to fix it, so your comment will hereafter be nonsense.

1:57 PM  

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