2012: The Year Product Placement Will Destroy All Integrity in Movies

I (almost) promise this will be my last post about 2012 … did anyone else notice the product placement in Roland Emmerich’s disaster-fest? Ryan Sager is all bent out of shape about it, at True/Slant:

I won’t be giving away too much to tell you that 2012 involves one of the most ludicrous seeming product placements in movie history: The hero’s 7-year-old daughter wearing Huggies Pull-Ups. The pull-ups problem is introduced in the first act (and, if you see a gun in the first act…). They don’t appear in the second act. But — and truly, I’m not giving anything away here, I don’t think, but possible spoiler alert — the Huggies Pull-Ups end up featuring in the last two lines of the movie, which go roughly as such:

Annoying 7-year-old daughter: I don’t need Pull-Ups anymore!

The insufferable John Cusack: Nice!

That’s the end of the movie. Trillions of dollars worth of special effects. Years of people’s lives making this movie. And it ends with a non sequitur (there has been no character development of the daughter to justify this line) about diapers.

What’s the deal? Presumably product placement (though I can’t find any news stories confirming it). Regardless of this particular instance, though, we all know that product placement has become rife in movies and TV (TV especially needs it these days, with people fast-forwarding through DVR’d commercials). Product placement is a running meta-joke on “30 Rock.” It’s a non-joke on most every other show.

But does it work?

One team took a look, in this study (abstract), “The Effectiveness of Brand Placements in the Movies: Levels of Placements, Explicit and Implicit Memory, and Brand-Choice Behavior.” Cognitive Daily takes a look:

Moonhee Yang and David Roskos-Ewoldsen showed 373 students from the University of Alabama one of 15, 20-minute movie clips taken from major Hollywood films. Around the middle of each clip was a single product placement of interest. These products had been pre-selected by a preference panel to be roughly equally appealing. Another panel assessed the importance of the product in the movie’s storyline by placing it in one of three categories: Background (not important to story), Used by Character, and Story Connection (meaning the product was actually related to the plot of the movie). This table lists all the products and films in the study:

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[more at True/Slant]

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  • Anonymous

    It’s amazing the companies that still needlessly advertise their products. If Pepsi, Coke, Budweiser or McDonald’s pulled all of their ads would you forget about them? Think about the positive things they could do for the world with the money they would save by not advertising, although I’m sure they are able to use this as another way to screw the government out of tax money like every other major corporation while thousands of children die every day from starvation and preventable disease.

    I know that these corporations likely do some good, giving to charities, etc. but that is not enough. It is not enough until every man, woman and child on this planet is healthy and happy, for the rest of time. Except pedophiles and Muslims, we have to draw the line somewhere.

  • tonyviner

    It's amazing the companies that still needlessly advertise their products. If Pepsi, Coke, Budweiser or McDonald's pulled all of their ads would you forget about them? Think about the positive things they could do for the world with the money they would save by not advertising, although I'm sure they are able to use this as another way to screw the government out of tax money like every other major corporation while thousands of children die every day from starvation and preventable disease.

    I know that these corporations likely do some good, giving to charities, etc. but that is not enough. It is not enough until every man, woman and child on this planet is healthy and happy, for the rest of time. Except pedophiles and Muslims, we have to draw the line somewhere.

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