Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Not-So Fantastic Product Placement

Product placement, a tool used by production companies to relieve themselves of capital put into a film. The brands will talk with the studios to figure out a deal regarding how their product will be used and for how long. From using brand new models of Hyundai in The Walking Dead to Gibson guitars in This is Spinal Tap, product placement has created a common business strategy for filmmakers. It has also become a game for viewers. The brands can be hidden or placed right in front of the viewer. In the film, The Fantastic Four (2005), product placement covers the spectrum of hidden to obvious in a matter of scenes.

Fox Racing and The North Face

The first couple of brands that I noticed were Fox Racing and The North Face. These brands were shown in the scene where Johnny Storm and his nurse decide to go out snowboarding. We see the Fox logo on Johnny’s chest for a second, but as he moves closer the logo comes into a more focused view. I believe that they used this brand here because it shows people that if you want to be as good of a snowboarding as Johnny is, then you should buy Fox Racing.  The next brand I noticed was The North Face, placed on the left side of the nurse’s jacket. This placement seems to be used for the same reason as Fox Racing since the nurse is also a talented skier. Both actors are displayed as the “ideal” physical body type and attractiveness, so the brands are to show the viewers not only can the purchaser of these brands be a talented skier and snowboarder, but they’re also going to look good too. This has a very emotional pull with younger viewers. Seeing their heroes in this gear and getting the girl will make them want to go out and buy the brand. This strategy is counter-intuitive. It separates two demographics since a man is wearing Fox while the woman is wearing The North Face.  This is unethical on the producer’s part since it limits the range of purchases. Although a clever placement, the separation of the two genders hinders the two brands from increasing their profits. These two brands were very subtle in their placement being small and almost unnoticeable at certain points, but moving forward, the producers just got lazy.

Pepsi, Oscar Meyer, Dos Equis, and every other Brand Out There

Films will use maybe one or two actual brands to help deter some of the costs from the actual production, but not this film. Johnny Storm helps display the brands that helped make this film. The first ones the viewer will see are ESPN, ABC, and the X-Games. ESPN and the X-Games are right there on the scene, but a little more digging shows that are branches of ABC networks. As Johnny leaves the arena, the real “magic” begins. Photos of the scene can be found here. There are so many brands placed in this scene of the X-games that it just seems that the producers did anything they could to make money. There seems to be little logic behind this scene. After the film was made there wasn’t a huge marketing campaign with any of the other brands. There was no reason too. The brands are shoved in the viewer's face. It seems unfair though to the film since these brands did nothing to help boost the notoriety of the film. It makes sense for there not to be a huge marketing campaign. People flocked to the theaters to see The Fantastic Four, and they would leave feeling thirsty for some Pepsi, or Dos Equis, and hungry for some Lunchables. Hands down, this scene has to be one of the most unethical and logical uses of product placement out there.

This product placement in this film was pretty bad. There were other brands that were too difficult to see and identify. I’m giving this film a 2/5 because of the effort. I enjoyed the film for it's action, but Fox needs to work on not being so obvious.

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