Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost

Who ya gonna call?

            Product placement is a necessary evil in the movie industry. Films need the incorporation of real-world products to help mimic reality, and companies take advantage of this necessity by using films as a form of advertisement. All films integrate some product placement, but it usually goes unnoticed by the audience. Sometimes, a film is super heavy with product placement. When this happens, the audience notices and the film loses its sincerity. Ghostbusters is a 1980s classic that incorporates the supernatural and comedy. This film is famous for being chock-full of product placement, including the glorious Twinkie scene.
When Columbia pictures announced the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters with an all-female cast, fans were sure to see the same.
            The new Ghostbusters features many examples of product placement including: Papa Johns, Twinkie, Hi-C, Woolworth, and more. Although many brands were displayed, the product placement didn’t take away from the story. One scene in the film stands out as being an obvious advertisement for Pringles. The scene begins as three of the Ghostbusters (Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, and Kate McKinnon) enter to investigate the haunted “Aldridge Mansion.” They are looking for a ghost that was reported to be in the mansion. The entire time as they search, Kate McKinnon’s character, Holtzmann, is gripping a can of Pringles. Finally, as the basement door starts glowing a ghostly blue, Holtzmann begins crunching on the Pringles loudly.
When asked how she could be eating right now, Holtzmann simply replies, “You try saying no to these salty parabolas.” She continues munching on the Pringles even when the ghostly figure appears and sprays ectoplasm all over Kristen Wiig. Although obvious product placement, this encounter did not take away from the film’s ethos, pathos, or logos. Rather, it adds to the appeals of the film. According to Andrea Lunsford in Everything’s an Argument, pathos is about “establish[ing] an important connection” with an audience. This Pringles product placement creates a connection with the audience through humor. Holtzmann is an eccentric character and the main form of comedy relief in the movie. By having her eat Pringles at a critical moment of their ghost hunting career, we are provoked by humor to laugh and connect with her. It also adds to her ethos and logos by establishing Holtzmann as a funny character who would be logically eating at such an important moment.
            As far as the other product placements in the film, they are done subtly. Instead of having obvious product placement, Papa Johns, Twinkie, and Hi-C took the approach of having an official partnership with Ghostbusters to create limited edition products.  For example, Twinkie created the “Key Lime Slime” flavored version of their product to promote the film. Add the Twinkie with Hi-C’s “Ecto Cooler” drink for a fun, green, and slimey snack. This kind of partnership adds to the ethos of both the film and the product. The film gets promoted by having its name and release date all over product packages, while the product gets a brief boost in sales as the movie runs in theatres. In fact, Twinkie was discontinued byHostess back in 2012, making a short-lived comeback in 2013. Twinkie has Ghostbusters to thank for reintroducing its product with “Key Lime Slime.”  
            Overall, I give the Ghostbusters reboot 3 nachos for product placement. I was a little disappointed by the film itself, because of my love for the original, but that wasn’t because of the product placement. The product placement was reasonable and mainly subtle, with only one obvious advertisement for Pringles. As far as partnership, Ghostbusters chose brands that weren’t very popular such as Twinkie. This made for a beneficial relationship for the products, but not for the movie. The movie only grossed $128,350,574, which is significantly lower than all other movies in the franchise. This ineffectiveness of the promotion of the movie through product placement is why Ghostbusters was given only 3/5 nachos.

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