Product placement. It’s here to stay. It’s surprisingly effective when done well, eye-rollingly bad when done haphazardly, and flat-out offensive when done poorly. Here is my three-tiered breakdown of current product placement styles.
Product Placement Done Well – Volkswagen
In the movie Van Wilder, the star, Ryan Reynolds, is seen wearing a VW hat backwards. It’s casual. It’s hip. And it’s placed on the coolest kid at Coolidge College. The now “Sexiest Man Alive” made Volkswagen trendier than ever. Just Google “Ryan Reynolds VW hat,” and you’ll see a whole slew of people asking where they can get their own. And it wasn’t just the hat. His campus golf cart also had the letters VW (subtle product placement) on the front of it.
Of course, you could argue that the VW in both of these instances stands for Van Wilder, but we both know we’d only be fooling ourselves.
In-Your-Face Product Placement – Pizza Hut/Subway
These days, when the producer of content is afraid that its blatant product placement will alienate its audience, the company sometimes decides to go head-on. This usually happens with disruptive and direct promotion of the product right in the middle of the show or movie. The actors break out of character or turn to face the camera directly and talk about the product. Humor seems to be the only effective way of doing this, and the response from the consumer is usually an eye roll or the thought “I guess this is what I have to deal with now.”
Product Placement Done Like #@!% – Chex Mix
I can’t tell which is more vomit-inducing: this ridiculous Chex Mix plug in “Days of Our Lives” or the pathetic attempt at acting. Either way, this, in my opinion, is the worst of all three. It tries to be sneaky but is blatantly obvious. The only question that merits asking is: Did the producers of the show suggest this or was it Chex Mix?
I really don’t care what the response is. It just plain sucks.
Author: Eric Swenson