In today’s world, it is hard to turn on your television or read the newspaper without the media working to try to persuade you to think or feel a certain way about something. Without a doubt, it is safe to say that almost all media outlets have used some sort of manipulative technique to a certain degree to influence their audience. Although there are several techniques that are used today, one of the most common and obvious techniques is product placement.
Product placement is a highly popular manipulative technique used by advertisers because it allows them to discreetly promote their products by strategically placing these products in movies, television shows, and music videos. These companies want to influence viewers into becoming interested and familiar with their products and buying them. In his excerpt “It Will Shock You How Much It Never Happened”, Chuck Klosterman mentions how companies succeed by associating their products with a certain emotion and/or a celebrity to get consumers to feel like they will attain these emotions or become a part of that celebrity almost. That is the purpose of product placement. How many of you have seen a character in a movie drink a particular brand of drink that you are not familiar with and suddenly you develop an urge to search up the products? What about wanting the latest technology gadget that you saw your favorite character on your favorite tv series use? I know I’ve felt like this on many occasions.
Today, it seems like companies no longer care about being discreet about product placement as long as they get the product featured in there somehow. As time goes by, the less discreet these product promotions seem to get. It is no longer surprising to see Coke products or Macbooks promoted in movies and television shows. From showing the character Wayne Campbell eating a box of pizza from Pizza Hut in the 1992 movie Wayne’s World to Adam Sandler eating a bucket of Popeyes fried chicken in Little Nicky to Doctor House using his Macbook on the television series House, product placement is everywhere. Lady Gaga shamelessly uses product placement in her Telephone music video in which she is seen with Diet Coke cans used as rollers in her hair, texting on her Virgin mobile phone, holding a bottle of Miracle Whip to the camera for everyone to see, and showing off many other brands. You can see the placement footages that were used in her video here. I am sure that there are people who saw the video and were convinced into buying at least one out of the many countless products that were featured in her video because, if Lady Gaga has it in her video, then she must use it and it must be cool…right?
Companies spend thousands of dollars on product placement because it always seems to be effective in different degrees. Audiences who see these product placements may become curious and lead them to invest in the product. Even if some people in the audience do not purchase these products, the companies who pay to get these products featured in the media forms win because they still got their brand out there to old and potentially new consumers. Pop culture critic Peter Hartlaub wrote an interesting article for MSN discussing some well-known films that took part in this form of manipulation, the products that were featured, and the success that came afterwards for these products after the movies were released.
Product placements will always be in your face whether you are watching a movie, a show, or a music video. Whether you choose to give in to the companies and invest in the brand or ignore them is ultimately up to you. Don’t just sporadically invest in a product because you saw it last weekend on a movie that you loved, or because you saw your favorite singer using it in one of his or her music videos. Now that you are more familiar with this form of media manipulation, will you be able to recognize it the next time you go see a movie?