so for one reason or another I found myself watching Sex and the City at the weekend. the event was preceded on Friday lunchtime by colleagues warning me about the pervasive and excessive (their words) product placement in the movie. I was bracing myself for the worst.
there was no need. not only did I not find the product placement intrusive, but thought that it genuinely added to the movie (which for the record I didn't love and thought CB was intensely annoying throughout, but I'm using it as a vehicle for a post on product placement).
the internet seems to agree with my colleagues. a post on Adrants notes that a panel for Brandchannel's Brandcameo (which conducts product placement in film studies so knows about these things) selected Sex and the City for their Film Whore award; awarded to the film that most "sold out" for product placement.
delightfully, Vanity Fair sent not one but two reporters to the movie. they happily counted no less than 67 brands that appear in the movie, which you can explore here. this is perhaps not surprising given that the same article reports how a New Line Cinema exec coined the movie the 'Super Bowl for women'.
I've never had a problem with product placement. we live in a branded world, where the meanings, symbolism and trappings of brands pervade not only what we consume but why we consume them. they in part define us and we in part define ourselves by them. to quote John Kay:
"I am irresistible, I say, as I put on my designer fragrance. I am a merchant banker, I say, as I climb out of my BMW. I am a juvenile lout, I say, as I pour an extra strong lager. I am handsome, I say, as I put on my Levi jeans."
what would be weird would be a movie without brands. where the reality of brands was pasted out in favour of, what exactly? …editorial or cultural purity? there is no such so-called purity to protect. the 20th Century's walls that separated advertising and content are being pulled down. not because we have to (although in many instances – PVRs etc – we do) but because a media and communications ecology in which brands are able to tell their stories by attaching and associating themselves to real stuff is better than one in which 30" stall after 25×4 after 30" stall is wheeled out to effective frequency us into submission.
Movies are better for having brands, where appropriate, in them. those who argue that the appropriate level is zero should take a look around them, because that's not the world in which they live.