Top Gun is an iconic American film it has a little bit of something for everyone. The film has the irresistible, smart and witty Naval pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell played by Tom Cruise. He sweeps the ladies off their feet in his uniform and impresses his peers with his courageous and risky skills in flight. The plot of the movie revolves around some all American Navy men making friends through some friendly competition in flight school and on top of that we watch Maverick fall in love. The plot has something for everyone making Top Gun the highest grossing film of 1986 (boxofficemojo.com). Throughout the film we watch Maverick put on his sleek Ray Ban aviators at the most pivotal moments such as on the tarmac before flight, when he’s hitting on the girl or shirtless playing volleyball. After the release of Top Gun Ray Ban aviator sales increased by 40% thanks to Maverick.
Tom Cruise has no problem making Ray Bans sexy again, three years before the release of Top Gun Cruise stared in Risky Business. In Risky Business Cruise’s character wore Ray Ban’s iconic Wayfarer sunglasses so after the release of the film Wayfarer’s sales increased by 50%. Cruise was beginning to make a name for himself in the 1980’s so its not surprising that Ray Bans used Cruise’s ethos to their advantage again in Top Gun. Aside from Cruise being the actor himself Cruise’s character Maverick is the kind of guy we can’t help but love. Maverick is rebellious for all the right reasons every girl wants to date him or guys want to be him which ultimately makes Ray Ban’s aviators immediately appealing.
Another way Ray Ban’s successfully advertised their product was through the pathos of the viewer. We watched Maverick put on his sunglasses at pivotal points throughout the film. Maverick really gave aviators some major sex appeal in one scene the guys are playing sand volleyball, its sweaty, aggressive, fun and of course Maverick is rocking his aviators the whole time. It makes the audience think, wow if only I looked that good maybe I should get some aviators. Or you catch yourself wondering wow where can I find a guy who looks like that either way Maverick really rocks the aviators.
It is also interesting because there are four guys in the scene and the only one rocking the iconic aviators is Maverick. So yeah Maverick is sexy but he’s also a little witty and dangerous which makes the audience swoon even more. There is one scene in the movie where Maverick tells his crush, Claire, in front of the rest of his class about how he flew upside down hovering over his partner Goose just so he could give him the bird. Claire and Maverick have a flirty exchange then Maverick gets up to leave, gives her a cheeky smile, put on his aviators and walks away. Again we find ourselves in awe of Maverick. Aside from swooning over Maverick we also watch him walk along the tarmac about to hop in his jet and every time he’s doing this walk he is in his aviators. Here he is about to go fly a jet, like how incredibly cool is that, and he’s rocking his aviators. We as an audience get excited and a little nervous every time Maverick flies but we know he’ll be wearing his Ray Bans leading up to it.
There is one scene where everyone is on the tarmac on the way to get in a jet and many of the other characters are wearing aviators but none of them are wearing the iconic black and gold aviators. There is one character that is wearing aviators but his are reflective ones but still subtle product placement by Ray Ban. Ray Ban continues to place their other products throughout the film they are all different forms of aviators or similar shapes. Goose, Mavericks best friend and often co-pilot, is seen wearing Ray Ban’s Caravan style throughout the film. One of the most iconic scenes, which appeals to pathos once again, is when Goose and Maverick sing she’s lost that loving feeling to Claire in a bar and in this scene Goose is wearing his Ray Bans. Iceman, Maverick’s nemesis in flight school, is often seen wearing Ray Ban’s Shooter style. Although none of the other Ray Ban styles were as popular as Maverick’s aviators it was just interesting to notice how Ray Ban sprinkled their various products throughout the film.
The pathos and ethos really did a lot for Ray Ban but ultimately it was the logos that really sold the product. It was essential that Maverick was wearing the aviators at appropriate times, winning the girl, on the tarmac and what not. The product placement wouldn’t have been nearly as effective if he always had them on. Every time Maverick is wearing his glasses we find ourselves wishing we could be him in his leather jacket with a girl on his motorcycle. It’s moments like those where the product really sold itself. Maverick really sold the product and made us feel like if we had on aviators we too could fly jets, get girls all while being attractive and funny.
I found the product placement in the film to be incredibly effective. Cruise was able to sell the product and even sell the stereotype that all pilots wear aviators. I would give the product placement 4.5/5 because I felt that the product placement was effective but not overwhelming. I also enjoyed how Ray Ban also marketed their other models besides aviators very subtly.