The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'product placement'
The shadowy phenomenon of product placement in pop music was thrust into the spotlight when culture jammers the Anti-Advertising Agency, who were running a virtual jeans-making sweatshop in Second Life as an art project, received a proposal from a product placement agency, offering to put his brand of jeans in a Pussycat Dolls song, which they published online
In the e-mail, Kluger (who has represented Mariah Carey, New Kids on the Blog, Ne-Yo, Fall Out Boy, Method Man, Lady GaGa and Ludacris) explained via e-mail that for the right price, Double Happiness Jeans could find its way into the lyrics in an upcoming Pussycat Dolls song. Crouse posted the e-mail on his blog at the Anti-Advertising Agency, an art project of sorts that's basically the philosophical mirror image of a traditional ad agency.
The Anti-Advertising Agency declined and has already drawn some attention to the practice of selling space in lyrics to advertisers through its blog. "Maybe Ludacris wants to rap about a luxury SUV, and is just looking for the right one," said Lambert. "We'll never know (everything about) how it works, because that takes the mystique out of it, and the mystique is one of the things that they can sell." But thanks to this e-mail, we at least have proof that the phenomenon is real.Meanwhile, the agency, Kluger PR (who have emailed WIRED and disowned responsibility for the actual email) has asserted that when they place products in songs, they take every care to ensure that artistic integrity is not affected:
"We are just financially taking care of the people that should be taken care of," he told us via e-mail. "If an artist like Sheryl Crow has the same target audience as XZY brand, we feel it's nothing but a strong and strategic way to pinpoint a market.
"Now, we don't want an artist to write a song specifically to promote a brand, we just feel that if it's a product that's admired by the artist and fits his/her image, we now have the capability of leveling out the playing field and making things financially beneficial for all parties involved. 'Brand-Dropping' is the term that the Kluger Agency coined to describe discreetly advertising by product mentioning in song, and we feel we can make this the way of the future without jeopardizing any artists creative outlet or typical style."I wonder how much it takes to arrange that your (virtual) brand of jeans is sufficiently admired by the Pussycat Dolls for them to (quite sincerely, of course) sing its praises. Which sounds like the artistic equivalent of the question of how much money it takes to win the amorous affections of a lady (or, indeed, gentleman) of negotiable virtue. In which case, would that make Kluger PR a pimp?
Charlie Brooker weighs in on the issue of product placement, with a modest proposal of his own:
Let's say you're trying to launch a new soft drink. Traditionally you'd have to spend millions on a commercial, and millions more booking airtime for it. Screw that. Here's what you do: put up one billboard. Just one. Somewhere on a route near Buckingham Palace or Downing Street. Point a camera at it 24/7. Then simply pay a sniper to assassinate someone of global importance when they pass in front of it. Bingo! The clip will run on an endless loop on every news channel in the world, for eternity. Even as viewers gasp in horror watching the victim's head explode like a watermelon, they'll simultaneously be thinking "What's that? New Plum-Flavoured Pepsi? Cool!" each time a chunk of skull flies past your logo.
Meanwhile, the UK's media minister has vowed not to allow product placement in British-produced television programmes, saying that to do so would compromise the high esteem in which British television is held worldwide.
(Is British television still held in the same high esteem it was years ago, though? There is a good deal of unoriginal and generally cheap programming being made in Britain these days. Meanwhile, American television seems to have transcended its reputation for lowest-common-denominator programming, with series winning acclaim.)
It has emerged that the version of the recent James Bond film Casino Royale shown on British Airways flights has been edited to remove references to rival airline Virgin Atlantic:
British Airways has removed a shot of Virgin Atlantic boss Sir Richard Branson from the in-flight version of the James Bond movie Casino Royale.
The British Airways edit also obscures the tail fin of a Virgin plane that was seen in the original.As a BA spokesman points out, the airline edits many films to render them fit for in-flight viewing, and what exactly that entails is its own business. (I suspect that neither Fight Club nor Snakes On A Plane made it to the backs of airliner seats, for example.) I wonder how many other similar instances of product displacement have occurred on flights.
(via Boing Boing)
More on the explosion in product placement in television shows, brought about by advertisers' concern that consumers may be skipping ads:
In a recent episode of the NBC series Medium, writers had to work the movie Memoirs of a Geisha into the dialogue three times because of a deal the network made with Sony earlier in the season. They even had the characters go on a date to an early screening of the movie and bump into friends who had just viewed Geisha to tell them how good it was.
Another product placement intruded a touching scene on ABC's soap opera, All My Children, when writers were forced to incorporate a line about a new Wal-Mart perfume into the dialogue as a character, Greenlee, sat at the bedside of her husband who was suffering from a fatal gunshot wound.
"We know firsthand how the story gets short-changed every time a reality show gets taken over by an advertiser," said the Writers Guild of America. "We're the ones forced to put in long hours just to figure out how we're going to embed that can of soda into the storyline eight more times before the final episode."
Product placement - whereby items are woven into programmes to satisfy advertisers - has become rife on US television as revenue from traditional commercials has dropped. It is most common in reality shows such as The Contender, which recorded 7,500 instances last year. It can also be seen in fiction programmes. In an episode of Desperate Housewives broadcast this year, one of the lead characters finds work as a model, buys a Buick LaCrosse and wastes no time showing it off to her friends at the mall. Two Buick commercials ran during the same episode.The Writers' Guild of America wants a statement at the beginning of each show, listing the incidences of product placement in the programme, in the hope that such statements counteract the economic pressure to shovel in more products into each script, with the story taking a back seat to commercial considerations.
A project tracking references to brands in songs in the Billboard Top 20 has found that, in 2003, there were 82 different brands mentioned in top-20 songs; most of them were brands for prestige products like luxury cars or boutique spirits, and all but one of the songs in question were hip-hop/R&B (the exception was Good Charlotte):
- Hip-hop is the perfect medium to register the relevance of contemporary brands. Hip-hop and rap have always been about the here-and-now, rather than rock or pop songs, which typically focus on eternal themes of love and loss.
Another explanation is that the vocabulary of mainstream hip-hop (or "rap" as some call it, with the word "hip-hop" being reserved for more credible music) has become restricted to assertions of status and power, which is why boutique brands are so important in the genre.
(Hip-hop has disappointed me; once upon a time, it was all rather clever and intelligent -- it started off as an African-American equivalent of punk, using improvised technology (such as turntables) in much the ways that chip musicians do now, with all the resourcefulness that such a new medium entails -- but now it has become rather stupid and atavistic, all about booty and bling-bling and how bad you are and what you'll do to whoever challenges you. Mind you, the definition of "hip-hop" appears to have been lost along the way as well; case in point: Universal's Def Jam division rereleasing a DVD of Al Pacino's Scarface rebranded as a "classic hip-hop movie". I didn't know that this movie contained any rapping, scratching, breakdancing or aerosol art (the "four elements" of hip-hop culture; note the absence of pimpin', bustin' caps or wearing bling-bling jewellery in that list).)
Here it comes: product placement in rap lyrics, with rap record labels and luxury product companies doing deals for mentions in lyrics, and rappers hawking their own lines of luxury products. Hands up who didn't see this coming from a long way off, with the conspicuous brand consumption obsession that is central to commercial hip-hop. (via Reenhead)