I must be a bit bonkers over product placement. The term describes how broadcasters drop branded items, as if serendipitously, in entertainment media. Of course this is advertising in disguise and I have been an aficionado of this guerrilla marketing tactic ever since I saw the thoroughly silly movie called, “And God Spoke,” in which the makers of a Biblical epic inject a soft-drink commercial into the movie because that was the only sponsor willing to fund the project.
The film is fun if you have the time to watch it. Meanwhile, the Center for Media Research reposted Nielsen data showing that product placements rose 39 percent in network television in Q1 2008 but fell in cable television. As I noted yesterday network advertising has been off sharply while cable ads have risen. So the hard-up networks are pimping whatever they can. “There were 117,976 brand occurrences on cable and broadcast networks in the first three months of the year,” the Center reported.
Here is the Center for Media Research report on 2006 product placement which was even then growing 40 percent. So the current gains continue a trend. That report said:
“product placement spending surged 42.2% to $2.21 billion in 2005 with double-digit growth expected to continue in 2006 and beyond. Product placement spending in TV, film and other media is expected to climb another 38.8% to $3.07 billion in 2006.”
Finally here below please find my summary of aesthete and critic David Hadju‘s remarks on product placement. One thing in my notes from his talk (at a Columbia University J-school alumni event) was this: circus owner P.T. Barnum used products in his big tent shows and found that circus goers were amused that he had done so. Apparently, Hadju said, the public is tickled that entertainers pluck items out of their lives and drop them into media. Here are Hadju’s previously-published remarks taken from a lengthy blog posting mocking the “religion” of journalism:
I decided to expand my horizons at a lecture from aesthete and critic David Hadju. And I’ll be damned if he didn’t deliver some news I could use. Hajdu talked about the notion of product placement throughout history. Seems like ever since Homer entertainers sucked up to the rich and powerful, a practice that continued up through the Renaissance when painters PhotoShopped their patrons’ faces into artworks. Hadju said this practice stopped during the modern industrial era ((which corresponds with the rise of democracy, n’est-pas?) during which time the “starving artist” made integrity the cornerstone of art. Nowadays, Hajdu said, culture is going to back to this suck-up future, as evidenced by the placement of Tequila references in a Broadway remake of Sweet Charity. So I’m thinking, is this Aristocracy 2.0?, so I ask Hadju something like: Does this mean we’re returning to a he-who-pays-the-piper-calls-the-tune paradigm? And he says something like: Yes. Which I find very useful because it dovetails with an essay from techno-seer Kevin Kelly who recently wrote the New Age Guide to Sucking Up As a Business Model. (Memo to self: work on this ingratiating thing.)