Tuesday, September 30, 2008

[product placement] productive or counterproductive

From MI6:

The Bond franchise has long been known as a cash cow for its producers, not least because of how much it grosses at the box office, but also how much revenue it rakes in from advertisers wanting their brands strategically placed in the movies. It has been claimed that since 2002's Die Another Day was dubbed "Buy Another Day" by some critics.

And it doesn't just happen on the silver screen. In 2001, jewellery brand Bulgari paid author Fay Weldon to liberally dose her novel The Bulgari Connection with mentions of the brand, while numerous music artists have made Faustian pacts with commerce to bankroll their endeavours.

How you feel about that can vary from David Lynch's reaction to one a bit less extreme, realizing that the trend has been around from the 80s and even before and also realizing that the film is not going to be initially funded without it, even if the gross exceeds that amount later. After all, Art may be the primary thing but so is making money on the film is also a factor.

What happens when product placement goes further?
When you see giant Coke cups sitting at the fingertips of American Idol judges, that's not just product placement. That's full-fledged product integration — when a brand becomes inextricably identified with the content of a show.

That's why network executives use words such as "natural" and "organic" when they talk about product integration and scripted TV ... they don't want it to be so blatantly obvious that it overwhelms the programming. But they don't want you to miss it, either.

Somewhere along the line it becomes sponsorship, such as in the Formula 1 races and so on. Does it work? I'm not sure but in the case of Bond's Casino Royale, it didn't in one respect. During the train scene with the watches, this exchange took place:

Vesper: ... maladjusted young men who'd give little thought to sacrificing others in order to protect queen and country. You know, former SAS types with easy smiles and expensive watches - Rolex? [indicating his watch]

Bond: Omega.

Vesper: ... beautiful. Now having just met you, I wouldn't go so far as calling you a cold-hearted bastard -

Bond: Of course not.

Vesper: ... but it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine ...

Does it matter in the end or are you, the viewer, annoyed about the intrusion of products into the flow of the film? And what should producers do about it?


jmb said...

Most things I am sure are not even noticed but I must admit I now look at laptop computers when I see one onscreen to see if Apple has paid the big bucks for product placement.

Amazingly it is quite often they have but it does not seem to have greatly increased their market share which is mainly by word of mouth it seems.


And who could forget the plug for Reeses Pieces in E.T?

It does affect and intrude upon the creative process, I think.

James Higham said...

Bourne Identity had a few too.