After recently viewing i, ROBOT I got thinking about product placement and just how effectively it can or cannot be utilised in feature films.
I suppose it is only inevitable that studios should force filmmakers to advertise a certain product to help fund a film or boost a sale but do we really need to be slapped in the face with it? Take the James Bond films for example: Since Dr. No Aston Martin have undoubtedly sold a tremendous amount of cars as have BMW but in later years it is as if the franchise has been ordered to show off more product placement, notably in the form of Nokia technology.
Josie and the Pussycats decided to use product placement as a running in joke that poked fun at the way advertising is used in films, though the makers insist that no profits were gained from this. With this exception I find that product placement can be a dangerous thing.
More to the point, does anyone actually get the subconscious need to go out and buy a new phone or pair of trainers just because they see a famous actor adorned in such things? I sure as hell don't. But then we have to wonder, why are these products becoming more and more forced upon us? Is it because the subtle route is ineffective and nobody takes notice unless it takes up the width of the screen? It becomes problematic when product placement begins to affect the flow of a film when it isn't representing a better visualisation. Sure, Coca-Cola pops up all the time, that's a given, people drink coke, showing one more can on film isn't going to drastically change our minds and make us suddenly want to pick up more cases so why should this be any different with anything else? Show us a car, show us a telephone but please don't show us a five second close up on film, as if we don't see enough of that on TV or in magazines as it is.