A Little Bit About Product Placement

Remember the movie, The Truman Show with Jim Carrey and Laura Linney, where the reality family would pick up a product and do a quick pitch when they used something? I can see it being that obvious and maybe worse down the road.

I can see it now, ala Truman Show: Clark Kent busts a door down, then stops to say “I’ll bet the homeowners here can get a replacement door from Summit Doors” and then blurs on in to save the family.

You think I’m off in the head? We have that in place now. A company called Motion Picture Magic (MPM) does product placement in movies.

The woman who started the company is a long time friend of mine and she told me how they got their big break in the industry when she got one of her unknown clients placed in a movie that helped their product sell like hotcakes. Except they weren’t hotcakes, they were Reese’s Pieces in the movie E.T.. We all know that story.

In this scene, Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds picks up a simple box, but that box/product placement was paid for. There is a lot of money exchanged between hands to get their product in your face.

It’s exposure like this that can generate business worth an advertisers wallet. As MPM puts it, they “… involve our client’s products or services in every appropriate set, as well as being used, held, worn, consumed by, or seen with lead characters as their implied product of choice.” Did you notice the word, “implied?” We’re barraged and don’t even realize it sometimes.

Associations and Sponsored (Implied) Use

Right now Ashton Kutcher is the pitchman for CoolPix digital cameras. Yet the last time I researched a digital camera prior to purchasing one, that product didn’t have the best rating over on Consumer Reports. People associate good things with Kutcher, and thus, the product.

Product “placement” goes beyond the screen. Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and whatever star(s) are at the top of the gossip totem pole get paid to show up at parties to give the party a reputation.

The LG House in Malibu, CA is nothing but a place where products are placed and stars are given access to for their party bashes. When the paps show up to snap pics, guess what? The products end up in the pics.

On November 3rd, 2008, Charlize Theron (Hancock, Sleepwalking, AEon Flux), settled out of court on a $20 million breach of contract lawsuit for wearing the wrong watch during a social event, ONE TIME. She was under contract from October of 2005 to December of 2006 to wear a specific brand and she slipped. That slip ticked off her sponsor and cost her a chunk of change.

Marketing is mind boggling in all the ways we are pummeled, but right now our focus is on television and even that may be threatened because I’ve just read somewhere that actors are being urged to go on strike. I wonder what brand signs they’ll be using to picket?

Mark my words, this is coming, and we will be powerless to do anything about it because that is how this whole kit and caboodle works. On the bright side if consumers were to actually research products and make more intelligent purchasing decisions, powers would be had by all. But then where would television be?

Now I must go and buy something… Not sure what yet. I’ll know it when I see it in Wal-Mart… must… stop… writing and… shuffle out door.

Sources: The Washington Post, EW.com, Motion Picture Magic, ANA.net, People.com, RTO Online, USA Today,
Image Cr: Tim Kring: ign.com, Tom Cruise: Motion Picture Magic

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