Product Placement

Anchorman 2 Baxter

“Black Friday” sales have spilled over into Thanksgiving Day. Amazon just announced that it wants to set the stage for the robot war by piloting commodity-delivery drones to your home. The holiday shopping season has literally become a deadly event. Consumer culture is out of control and omnipresent, rampantly breaking through boundaries of common sense, private space, and basic human decency. Yet on the everyday, experiential scale, consumer culture seems, more than ever before, like no big deal. Perhaps we have, for better or worse, collectively accepted it as an inevitable part of living. We expressed shock that the NSA was data-mining its citizens without any evidence of consistent legal parameters, yet only the occasional TED speaker is concerned that similar practices persist on behalf of marketers who feed from the social media we volunteer our lives to. Public schools are looking to private sponsors to fill in the funding gaps left by austerity. Bookshelves are stocked with arguments that our purchases – not our civic engagement, social awareness, or self-determination – have become the major constitutive factor in developing our individual sense of self. To these, we don’t really seem to mind. However, one place that blatant product-hawking is held accountable, in which peddling is met with a rattle of dismissal and rejection rather than tacit acceptance, is decent movies. Until now.

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One of the main criticisms I’m hearing about The Internship is that it’s all one big advertisement for Google with little else of substance. This isn’t surprising, but it is very disappointing. When you have a movie with such prominent brand-integration it should go beyond the idea of product placement. The Internship shouldn’t be set at Google because they worked a deal with that company, whether financially beneficial to either side or not.  The Internship ought to be set at Google only because its story couldn’t be about or set at any another company than Google any more than The Social Network could have changed the name of Facebook in its script or a Steve Jobs biopic could rename the company he started. Of course, those two examples are true stories. But either would still be stronger for their relevance to the era and to what their stories are ultimately about even if they weren’t based on real events. It helps that Facebook is more than a brand now. And so is Apple. And so is Google. The fact that people groan when they see Peter Parker use Bing, an obvious product placement, rather than the more widely accepted Google search engine proves that we don’t think of the company the same way we think of Reese’s Pieces or whatever random car manufacturer is willing to spend the money for a close-up. I haven’t seen The Internship yet, so I can’t speak to how much the story is dependent on that […]

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Boiling Point

In a world with nothing much of interest happening (apparently), the internet got all aflutter when it was announced that James Bond would drink a Heineken in Skyfall. People everywhere were freaking the hell out while “news” outlets capitalized on the fact that they have no integrity by plastering misleading headlines everywhere. Just like this one: James Bond Will Swig a Heineken Instead of a Martini. That’s from Time Magazine’s online presence. People used to respect Time Magazine. I say used to assuming that there’s only so much bullshit one can suffer before you stop respecting something. Granted, this is “only” the on-line face of Time Magazine, but hey, it’s a slippery slope, right? Here’s what we know: Heineken has secured a product placement deal with Skyfall. In one scene, James Bond will drink a Heineken. I’m not sure how that translates into “Bond will no longer drink martinis and will instead only drink Heineken beer forever and ever.” I mean, unless you don’t give a shit about accurately reporting stories. Then you might as well headline “Skyfall to feature Heineken Advertising Everywhere and Bond Hates Vodka and Drinks Beer and Also He Might Be Gay Now.” Because why not? Granted – exaggeration. But so is saying Bond is drinking beer instead of martinis.

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It’s been a long, shaken-not-stirred run, but according to AdAge, James Bond will be enjoying an ice cold Heineken “at least in one scene.” Skyfall is part of a larger marketing campaign by the booze brand, but there’s a question of whether this changes Bond’s image. But why should it? Bond is the prototypical man’s man. The new slightly-more-Bourne-like era of action where Daniel Craig has taken the reigns has done more to change the character than a simple sip will. Now, if they start having him introduce himself first name first, that would be a real travesty.

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Everything You Need to Know About Product Placement

Not long ago, the team here at FSR took a look at the wild world of product placement in movies over a series of Culture Warrior articles, sponsored by Doritos. One great point that our own Cole Abaius made in his essay, A Word About Product Placement in Movies (Brought to You Buy Doritos) is that product placement impacts moviegoers in different ways. Some of us are more acutely aware of when we’re being sold to. Others simply don’t mind. What we can all agree on, however, is that product placement is alive and well and very much in existence. As explained by this cool new infographic from the folks at Online MBA Advice, the history of product placement is rich, the future is bright and most of us don’t seem to mind.

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In this season of meta (Rubber, Scream 4), Morgan Spurlock trumps all. Leave it to the Super Size Me documentarian, who has made a career out of sacrificing his mind and body for his projects, to humorously sell out his dignity to corporations for the most painstakingly self-reflexive movie of any sort since Adaptation. His POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is, yes, exactly what that above-title sponsorship suggests it to be. Rightfully disturbed by the ubiquity of product placement in modern entertainment, Spurlock sets out to spoof that synchronous blend of corporate schilling and art by crafting a documentary about his attempts to accrue corporate sponsors for a documentary about his attempts to accrue corporate sponsors for a documentary. And on and on we go.

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Ah, the brilliance of movie marketing — always providing ample opportunities for a schlub like me to make a drug reference in conjunction with one of my favorite on-screen characters.

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