Today’s consumer is swamped with advertisements everywhere:
television, radio, billboards, magazines, buses, newspapers,
and the Internet. More and more space is devoted to ads everyday.
From people walking down the street wearing signs, to flyers
on our cars and in mailboxes, to ads on ATM screens as we take
out our cash, we see ads every- where.
In 1982, in the film E.T., the main character was seen eating
his favorite candy, Reese’s Pieces. This placement catapulted
the tiny peanut butter morsels into mainstream popularity.
Another popular product placement was in the movie Forrest
Gump, where the main character was seen taking swigs of Dr.
Pepper throughout the movie. The success of the placements
prompted marketers to increase advertising products in every
Product placement is popular with producers because of the
large compensation they receive. Their reason for accepting
product placements is that they can spend more of their budget
on hiring a cast of better actors. Some placements are arranged.
Other times, the producers put a product in to create a sense
of reality. Most of the time there is financial compensation.
Other times, the product itself serves as compensation.
There is a significant amount of product placements in movies
that are currently in theatres. For instance, 32 companies
paid to have their products placed in Meet the Fockers. Some
of these brands are Apple, Ford, Orville Redenbacher, Panasonic,
Pepperidge Farm, Skippy, Starbucks, Tanqueray, and Tootsie
Another movie currently featuring brand cameos is Ocean’s
Twelve. Topping Meet the Fockers with 41 product placements,
Ocean’s Twelve features Amstel, Apple, Bellagio Casino,
Bose, Boston Red Sox, Budweiser, Dell, Ford, Grey Goose, Junior
Mints, Range Rover, Red Bull, and SpongeBob SquarePants.
In addition to the motion picture industry, television networks
are jumping on the product placement bandwagon. Advertising
companies are targeting networks like NBC, Time Warner’s
WB, and Viacom because their average viewer demographics is
18 to 49.
NBC’s Apprentice prominently places products in the show’s
central task. Corporations such as Pepsi and Burger King have
both invested heavily in having their products featured. As
a result, the Apprentice turns into a glorified commercial
for the product in which the task is involved.
Recently, legal issues have arisen concerning the placement
of products in movies and television without full disclosure
of their intended goal.
Commercial Alert, co-founded by Ralph Nader, which is a public
interest organization, has submitted its objections to the
Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission
regarding failure to comply with federal sponsorship identification
requirements. They claim that television networks are misleading
the public by not identifying when they occur. They argue that
such disclosure should be conspicuous. A notification should
appear on the screen long enough so that viewers are aware
of the intended message. Gary Ruskin, executive director of
Commercial Alert said, “Television is becoming an infomercial
medium. We have a right to know if we’re being propagandized.”
No matter how you view this issue, be aware that advertisements
are being thrown at you from all directions. So whether you
are sitting down eating popcorn in a movie theatre, or at
home relaxing watching television, you are the target.