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Product Placement
8.12.2002 by Dan, every Monday.


Recently, I was sitting in a movie theater, watching a movie.

Actually, to be honest, I'm not entirely sure why I specified that I was watching a movie in a movie theater. That's rather redundant. I should have been reasonable and assumed that you, the reader, would be able to figure out that if I was sitting in a movie theater, I was watching a movie. It's rather unlikely that one would leap to the conclusion that I was in a movie theater washing socks or preparing Japanese stir-fry. I apologize for not giving you, the reader, proper credit for your intelligence.

I also wish to say that upon re-reading the preceding paragraph, I don't know why I said “you, the reader.” It's pretty obvious that when I use the word “you,” I can only be addressing someone who is reading my column. I apologize for using such a redundant phrase and forcing myself to write yet another pointless and distracting paragraph. In fact, I'll just start over.

Recently, I was sitting in a movie theater, watching Austin Powers 3, when something occurred to me: The only way I was going to be able to leave the theater was going to be by untying my shoes and leaving them behind, as they were now permanently bonded to the floor by a cement made of partially congealed Pepsi and Raisenets.

But I also noticed that Austin was awfully fond of Heineken, holding his bottle with the label facing out the way only people in commercials and mental hospitals do.

And that's when I realized that I was the victim of Product Placement.

Some of you may be curious about product placement. And you should reward that curiosity with a nice Vanilla Coke. And while you enjoy its smooth, refreshing flavor, I'll tell you a bit about this practice.

Product placement is the practice of paying a filmmaker or studio to prominently show your product or logo in a film. This can range from the fairly subtle, such as the quick flash of a Pepsi billboard in “Final Fantasy,” to the nauseatingly overt, such as in the 1989 movie “The Wizard,” which is about the kids that played Nintendo games a lot, such as Double Dragon and Super Mario Brothers 3, and all the great accessories you could get for your Nintendo Entertainment System. And that was about it. But back then, no one knew that just thirteen short years later, you could get a revolutionary Playstation 2 for only $199 US!

Product placement has really only been in widespread use for twenty years, when it was first used in the movie “E.T.” Anyone over the age of 25 can readily remember the famous scene in which E.T. is lured out of his hiding place with a trail of Heineken cans. This was a rousing success, and since then, product placement has been as steady and reliable a thing as a Chevy truck. Chevy: Like A Rock.

Product placement is unusual, and effective, because it combines elements of both overt and subliminal advertising. You notice that Austin is drinking a Heineken, bringing your attention to the product, but you also subconsciously assosciate Heineken with the zany fun of Austin Powers, which helps give you a positive image of the product. And the next time you're picking out a beer, you'll see the green bottle and might be more inclined to choose it over the smooth flavor of an ice-cold Budweiser.

Movie studios love this because it's an easy way to make some quick cash before the movie is even finished, much less released. Advertisers love it because it's a way to get a great plug in without the stigma of an actual commercial. Directors tend to hate it because they're making a movie about a lovable alien or an underdog knight, not a freaking Reese's or Nike ad. Sometimes they get so upset that they get heartburn. And 67% of all film directors turn to the proven effectiveness of Tums. Nothing beats Tums for quick relief from heartburn, and it's a great source of calcium!

So the next time you're in a theater and see one of the Spy Kids chugging a Coca-Cola or Obi-Wan using the Force to get him a Snickers, just remember that it's the price we pay for living in a capitalist society.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to do the Dew and deposit a check.




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