People in our society don’t know what they want. They don’t know what they want because media tells them on a constant basis what they need. They need the new technology, the new product, the new designer label. Media manipulates through many avenues, but none are more prominent than in television shows and movies. People now believe that if their favorite actress, athlete, singer, or character uses a product then it must be good. People build fictitious relationships with celebrities that makes them believe they can be trusted. It is this relationship that the media exploits to sell their product. Sometimes this is done obviously, and sometimes subtlety.
When product placement is too obvious, sometimes it can backfire. If it is too obvious, it takes the audience out of the story and the characters and it makes it seem very unnatural and therefore not trustworthy. For instance, during this clip of an episode of the soap opera “Days of Our Lives” the two characters talk about the health benefits of Cheerios. This is done so over the top that it is difficult to take seriously. This may be the one circumstance that gives the audience a chance to escape product placement. They may not be able to escape seeing it, but they can escape the manipulation behind it and see the ploy of the producers of the show.
Other times when the product placement is not as obvious, the audience stands no chance because they don’t even know they are being manipulated. For instance, in movies like Sex and the City (in which fashion is an integral part of their show) the character’s clothes were marketed to the audience without the audience knowing.
This sort of advertising is difficult to escape and even more difficult to deflect. The audience really does not stand a chance because the product placement is within the realm of the story, and therefore they absorb it as they watch the plot unfold.
Chuck Klosterman writes, “Over time, embracing mass media in its entirety makes people more confused and less secure.” Nothing exemplifies this concept more than product placement. If people were not insecure about their true desires, then media would not have to provide them with some. Since product placement is overwhelming in society, it is clear that people rely on the media to tell them what they need. Whether it be clothes, technology, or other popular merchandise, audiences are being morphed into consumers every day. Until people realize that these companies are only after money, we will be bombarded by media forever.