Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A vote for product placement

The Economist magazine has come out in favor of product placement - something I've drawn attention to in the past (see, e.g., Can we avoid the ads any more?). The news peg is that the European Union is planning to legalize product placement, which has not surprisingly led to some stiff opposition in a continent that is often less friendly toward commercial interests than is the case in the U.S. My natural inclination is with the European critics - to say "No more ads, please!"; but the economically libertarian Economist demurs, and bases its argument for allowing product placement precisely on the point that annoys so many about so much modern advertising: its ubiquity and the relentlessness of its commercial message, both at the conscious and subconscious levels. In a commentary piece, "Ride and Prejudice" (paid registration required), the journal reminds us that
    if advertising that slips imperceptably into people's brains were to be banned, a great deal of what goes on would be outlawed. After all, drivers spinning past hoardings don't necessarily consciously clock the message they've seen; often they file it unconsciously -- as you, flicking through these pages [of the magazine], may well absorb the notion that an expensive watch or a new phone will change your life in some vague but enticing way.

So the argument for allowing product placement is that product placement is already all around us, in every sphere of our lives, thanks to ever-increasing advertising "clutter" in all walks of life in our society; deal with it! European TV producers should at least be able to make some money under the circumstances. Unfortunately, it's an argument as compelling as it is sad.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's time for this to happen regardless of the "overload" some fear. I don't know about others, but when a character in a TV show or movie drinks a beverage, it bugs me that the label doesn't register in my mind---it's like there is an immense world of generic products that closely mimic brand names in color and scheme of packaging. Where do I get this product that only the rich people on the screens of dreams are able to drink--I'm sure these products are better than the dreck we can buy. Where can I buy those potato chips they eat--dam the rich and their pampered ways. It's no surprise that the major car companies have been able to strategically place their products before our eyes for years (waay too expensive to make generic vehicles)--for instance, Agent Gibbs on NCIS drives a "hot" Dodge product, a fast and sporty model that enhances our belief that a take charge, goal-driven (pun intended)man drives such a vehicle. If you identify with him, you want one, and there is no doubt (none) in my mind that men have purchased this model vehicle for this reason. How many women have bought products like purses, shoes, etc. from the influence of shows like "Sex in the City"? Who hasn't wondered which gun is the preferable one to purchase based on which make/model our favorite good fella on the "Sopranos" uses? Product placement has been with us overtly or covertly for decades, so I say get on with it so I can stop wondering what kind of beer Patricia Arquette is drinking on "Medium" so I can drink some to try and foresee the answers to next weeks Comm 160 test.
DJ Smith

11/02/2005 6:20 AM  
Anonymous Laura Vasile said...

I don't think that legalizing product placement will dramatically change anything that has been going on in society for the last few decades. One cannot avoid seeing products in television or movies. It wold be impossible to film a TV show or movie without products. Granted, the placement of these products should not overshadow the actual content of the show, but I do not think that will become a problem we'll have to deal with for awhile. Without Europe's notice I believe that products have been infiltrating media covertly for years. Like I said before, you can't have a show or movie without products so whether they noticed it or not, certain characters drive certain cars. Particular clothes are worn by actors and actresses, and although you may have never seen the tag on that garment, when you see it in the store you may be drawn to it specifically because you remember it from TV, or because it has been subconsciously absorbed. As with anything that has to do with media today, if something gets out of hand we must take a stand and create regualtions, but in regards to this issue, I do not think that product placement will alter Europe's existance in any kind of significant way for quite a while.

Laura Vasile

11/02/2005 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Alexandra Miller said...

I am an advcoate of product placement. Especially with new technologies such as TiVo, it is becomeing increaly difficult for advertisers. Already viewers walk out of the room when commercials come on, so now that viewers can fast forward past them, adverisers are losing a lot of money. It would be easy to say- just get rid of commercials! But the media industry needs the money from advertisers. And so, product placement is the perfect answer for this perdicament. And I do not think that this form of advertising is ouvertly obnoxious or obtrusive because no matter where we go these days we see and/or hear advertisements. In fact, we are walking advertisements when we were labeled clothing! Therefore, I think it is great that the EU is legalizing product placement.

11/02/2005 5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that product placement is rather inevitable in the media these days. It will be weird to see an actor or an actress drinking a can of soda that obviously looks fake. I'd be more comfortable to see them drink a can of Coke than to see the props people of the show take time and make up fake cans.

Product placement reminds me of the movie, "The Truman Show." Truman, played by Jim Carrey, has been on TV since the day he was born. Everyone watched him grow up in this make-believe world. Every thing around him is fake. Since the show does not have time for commercials, the actors and actresses hold a product and face the camera and advertise it in a pretty obvious way. If all product placements were as obvious as those in "The Truman Show," I would be annoyed but if it's just an actor or an actress sipping soda from a Coke can, it doesn't bother me.

Hiroko Yuki

11/02/2005 11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Product placement can add to a program. Watching people use fake products or Pringles that have been magically, with duct tape, been turned in to P ingles does take away from the realism of TV shows. In the circumstance where real products are in an apartment or being used “silently” I welcome product placement with open arms. It’s when story lines are shaped into something new because they now revolve around the usage of a certain product (similar to how rap stars are paid to include certain things in their raps. E.g. Busta Rhymes – Pass the Courvoisier).

Jon Gerlach

11/03/2005 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Product placement is as American as George Carlin standup or Bill Clinton defining "sex." We've boughten into the consumer culture entirely and product placement is part of the deal. In fact, we're so advanced in product placement that it doesn't seem to matter what the product is, we'll find a way to place it. For examples of this, all you have to do is watch five minutes of HBO's Entourage and decide for yourself whether or not the constant celebrity name dropping and cameos are anything more than placing celebrities on the show as a product to be advertised. Europe, on the other hand, has been able to resist the temptation of product placement for a while and who's to blame them. Not to say that if they kept products out of their TV shows forever that they would never inherit the consumer culture that has nearly swept the entire world, because they already have. Product placement is merely a symbol to Europe: it could certainly be seen as the time when they crossed the point of no return to total cultural consumerism. Forever will their television directors be stuck having to make sure that cereal boxes and pop can labels are facing the camera. Sure, if most of Europe is already based upon consumerism, then why not take the next step and try to profit off of it. But then again, that's American capitalistic rationality at its finest.

~ David James

11/08/2005 7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, the legalization of product placement would not mean that much to me. If it is legalized, fine. If not? Well, then that's fine as well. It would be quite impossible to film a television show or movie without placing products, so why not place products we are familiar with? I guess it kind of makes the show or movie more realistic, because we can familiarize with that product. If the product placement is blatent, then that can get pretty annoying (although it was pretty funny in Happy Gilmore). Every day we are witnesses to product placement and advertising among ourselves. Your friend is drinking a gatorade, you suddenly feel thirsty...next thing you know, you want to go buy a gatorade too. The same goes for any product out there on the market. Our lives are pretty much nothing but product placements, so I see no problem with doing that in movies or television shows. I also have to say that if the law is not passed, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

-Rich Pulvino

11/09/2005 2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have a strong opinion either way of whether or not product placement should be legalized. However, I am an advocate of it and I believe that it is crucial to the success of a product. I think that well-known names can help to make a show more relatable to the audience. But when there are blatently obvious ads, it can get very annoying at times. No matter how hard we try, we cannot avoid advertisements in our everyday lives. From walking to class, to our clothing, ads are everywhere and that is not going to change any time soon. So for this reason i see no problem with having these same ads on tv or in the movies
-Lauren Austin

11/09/2005 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter to me whether or not product placement becomes legalized. However, I am very interested to know just how crucial product placement is to the success of a product. I personally don't feel as though my desires for certain products are influenced by product placement, and I have assumed that the same goes for the rest of the population. If all other types of advertisements were done away with, then I could understand the pull of product placement and its influence on consumers. But until that point, product placement will only serve to make television characters appear more realistic to me.

-Jillian Nunn

11/12/2005 1:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Product placement is something that I’m not sure how to feel about. It definitely helps to add realism to a television show or movie. When a character drinks from a Pepsi can or Budweiser bottle it’s more believable than someone drinking from a can labeled ‘beer’ or ‘soda.’ I believe that if products are being placed within a scene correctly and appropriately, the viewer will hardly notice them. I hate is when too much attention is drawn to the product being displayed. If you want to make money for a product, don’t hinder the integrity of the show by drawing unwarranted attention to the product.

11/20/2005 7:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry, that previous comment was from Ed Green.

11/20/2005 7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would agree exactly with Ed. It does make a movie/television show/ and what not more realistic. Seeing as though a lot of advertising is being taken away due to the increasing technology to get rid of it (TiVo). Personally I love advertising and enjoy watching what people come up with. Some stupid, some entertaining. But after a while there comes a point when you just don't want to watch it anymore. So where does that leave the businesses and advertising their product...? product placement! Can't really delete that unless you want to delete your show or movie.

Melody Kuzniar

12/08/2005 1:32 PM  

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