The Apple of my "I"

One of my all-time favourite movies is the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie blockbuster Mr. and Mrs. Smith in which apart from raw sexual chemistry and kickass action ;over twenty brands including Cadillac, Tissot, Everlast, Oliver Peoples Nitro, Nokia, Oakley, Panasonic and Samsung were prominently featured. Not to forget the turbocharged silver Mercedes estate ; with “suburban housewife” Angelina a.k.a Jane Smith at the wheel. Her endorsement was probably instrumental in sending loyal fans in their hordes to showrooms. In the accompanying still photograph, you can see the Panasonic ToughBook and the Tissot T-touch, and aviators from the same film.

Product-placement is also quite prominent in music videos. Lady Gaga whose Telephone video with its branding was one of my first few posts, has cashed in on the phenomenon massively. And I should mention that Gaga’s videos on Youtube in a span of 2 years have clocked 1 Billion hits online views collectively. Former Destiny’s child Kelly Rowland also hopes to reap riches from the trend. “We are currently seeking brands who want to partner with us for the upcoming (Grammy-winning, platinum-selling) Kelly Rowland music video for the first single off of her new album,” says a mass e-mail from a Universal Motown exec to various corporations. “We are primed for an outstanding project. This will be a video that is serviced around the world.”

30 Rock’s
increasingly blatant product placement is a cause of worry to TV purists. NBC is probably getting paid for those placements, even when 30 Rock makes them into over-the-top jokes. But as a matter of fact 30 Rock makes it fairly obvious that we’re being advertised to, and one of the messages of the satirical show is to show us where one should draw the line. “Just because you don’t see a commercial doesn’t mean it’s not there.” 30 Rock pokes fun at most …… corporate machines, and still kind of gets away with pornographic brand-embedding and name dropping.

Product placement takes the form of “production integration” when the image of the movie’s star (say Angelina Jolie) appearing on your screen with the product is a powerful image. We wilfully submit ourselves (also with suspension of disbelief) to the screen with no distractions in the darkness, except the occasional mobile going off. You are constantly being marketed to whether you recognize it or not. Keep an eye out for logos, scenes taking place in specific restaurants, or using specific services. When they appear, you’re probably enjoying a commercial.

According to the Mirror dated February 9th 2010; Product placement will be allowed on British TV programmes under new legislation announced by the Government .
It said that continuing to ban product placement would damage the finances of the British TV industry. Alcohol, tobacco, and food and drinks which are high in fat, salt or sugar are among the products that will not be allowed. Product placement will also be banned from TV news, current affairs, consumer and religious programming.

In a written statement, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Ben Bradshaw said: “We have … decided to legislate to allow UK television companies to include product placement in programmes which they make or commission to appear in their schedules.
“Adherence to our current position in which UK TV programme-making cannot benefit at all from the income potentially to be generated by product placement would lead to continuing damage to its finances at a time when this crucial part of our creative industries needs all the support we can give it.” It has become the more important to make this move now that every other EU member state, with the sole current exception of Denmark, has either allowed television product placement already or has expressed a firm intention to do so.” Not to do so would jeopardise the competitiveness of UK programme-makers as against the rest of the EU, and this is something which we cannot afford to do.” Other products which programme-makers will not be able to feature are prescription medicines, gambling, smoking accessories, over-the-counter medicines and infant and follow-on formula

In the 44 films in 2009 that topped the box office for at least one weekend, an Apple logo or device could be seen in at least 18 of them. (That’s almost 41%.) .For one month in 2009, product placement tracking service Nielsen IAG noted 62 total “occurrences” of Apple products, more than any other brand.

Apple’s placements that have appeared in close to a third of all recent box-office hits since the iPod’s launch in 2001 are often used in our everyday context,and fulfil an action in a movie.Apple is arguably an inspirational brand, and fits this “everyday” tag well. Apple is one brand whose product placement is grossly inversely proportional to its actual market share. Apple is a clean brand and seen not as individual products but almost as a way of life for some. But Apple takes upon risks on becoming more mass market which may endanger the current deified status and in some cases the free product placement it now enjoys. Automatic, subconscious brand-seller linkages therefore will be the future as most people of today are wary of large multinationals like McDonald’s and Pepsi, who also don’t put much thought into the placement of the brand into the popular ethos. As is the intent of PR companies , audiences make an unconscious value transfer from the movie to the brand; but this transfer should happen at a non-conscious level to reap rewards.

The 30 Rock team was once pulled up for in your face product placement. In spite of the McFlurry coming on well into the organic storyline progression, Tina Fey (the show’s executive producer) was forced to come out with a formal statement clarifying that it was not a paid inclusion. The recently-released iPad just made an appearance on the hit show Modern Family, even before the actual release of the device. Apple is also set to feature products in Toy Story 3. As a tribute to Steve Jobs once owner of Pixar, before it was sold to Walt Disney, there are many references ,sometimes disguised, to many Apple products in the 2008 movie Wall-E.

Repo Men directed by Miguel Sapochnik, almost felt like an automobile ad for the Volkswagen Touareg with its badge popping up every 10 min or so, in the narrative, all the while glowing prominently. Repo Men is set in a time frame well into in the future that echoes shades of the Blade Runner with blimp borne billboard ads sealing the placement deal. Not to mention that the protagonist was Dunhill and Dior Homme brand ambassador Jude Law.

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