Product placement is a very powerful tool that has been used by companies since the late 19th century. Believe it or not product placement was first used in novels, one of which was Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days” where shipping companies paid so that they may be mentioned in the novel. Later we see the use of product placement in film and today product placement can even be seen in video games.
It seems like product placement in American films has gone from something companies used to raise awareness about their brand, to movie producers’ main way to generate revenue before the motion picture is even released. This is something that has been going on since the early 1900’s, but has reached new levels of ridiculousness in the past twenty years or so. While it began as subtle background mentions and clever references, many believe product placement to just be too aggressive now. A few years ago, “Transformers” set the record of product placements with over 47 different brands getting exposure throughout the film. Seems a bit much, right? Well box office hit “Man of Steel” has broken the record with over 100 different companies paying for product placements and promotional tie ins. He film had grossed around $160 million before it even hit the theatres!
Here we have a quick and interesting video giving the brief history of product placement in movies. While the video is just a few years outdated, it is very informational and effective in bringing light to this ongoing trend in our media.
One side of the argument would state that this is a great way to keep money rolling through our media channels, and that the more recognizable products we see in our movies or programs, the more realistic and believable those programs are. In a way, the product placement makes the program more relatable for the viewers.
On the other side, many viewers see this as blatant advertising that may very well disrupt the narrative of the program they are trying to enjoy. The last thing someone wants to see in the middle of an intense or intriguing scene is some unashamed reference to a product or service that has nothing to do with the situation anyways.
Does product placement make movies seem more realistic and relatable to you, or is the excessive amount of product placement a turn off from what you watch?
-Austin Johnson, Jade Lester, Jami Rogers, Ty Thomas
Product placement makes films seem more realistic to me. For instance, in the Dark Knight franchise Bruce Wayne can be seen in a Lamborghini and a Bentley. Seeing these brands in the movie does not make me want to immediately go out and purchase their products (partly because I am a college student and can’t afford them). They make the fictional setting of Gotham City that more realistic. Product placement can be excessive like in Transformers, which began to feel like a long commercial halfway into it. The key is to find balance so that the advertising is tasteful and the audience remains unsuspecting.