Monday, August 22, 2005

product placement

With a trend towards TIVOs, HBO and DVDs of entire seasons, it is becoming easier than even to watch television uninterrupted by the 30 second ad. The result is a greater push towards product placement. Ideally, it is seemless, but sometimes it is glaringly obvious.

I watched Million Dollar Baby last night, and there were Coke machines, and ads for the Apprentice (both busses shown had the same 70 - strange really, for a show that looked like it was filmed in the 70's - when bus side advertising didn't exist). There was a obvious plug for Clorox (smells better) and not a cigarette to be seen.

It is what is inserted in films, and also what is not, that makes movies and HBO programming so interesting.

Gun control - most action movies make some kind of reference to gun control at some point. Whether this is pro or anti kind of comment depends upon NRA dollars/support, I am sure.

Cigarettes - in movies these days, smoking is either glorified or villified, but there is no in-between. I can see producers holding Phillip Morris at ransom, and alcohol companies - either ante up, or we will villify your product with the help of special interest groups.

Military - Shows either glorify the army or take a stab at it.

Religion - some pretty heavy religious themes coming up in movies these days - mercy killing (Million Dollar Baby), Suicide (Constantine), etc.

Maintaining the value system of the status quo, or subverting it - it depends upon how the producer of the movie knows how to hustle - the ideology that shows through is the one with the deepest financial commitment to the movie.

I would be very curious to see a brief given to a director about when and where and how a product can be shown.

I know for instance that BMW donated several cars to the Sopranos on the stipulation that no-one would be killed in a BMW, and no dead bodies would be put in the trunk.

In newer episodes there are comments about Nissan's triple safety philosophy regarding sensors in the seatbelts when Tony gives AJ an Xterra. As well, Tony drives an Escalade which saves his, and his passengers lives when he gets in a car accident.

Does anyone out there have information about creative/design briefs for directors?


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