Advertising and Product Placement

“Advertising can be characterized as a material device employed in the definition or qualification of markets, and this is a role that merits much closer investigation than it has yet received.” (McFall 2004, 2)

Historically speaking, advertisements were much more straight forward and descriptive in regards to the product one was trying to sell. New age advertising focuses more on selling an image that appeals to the customer, rather than the product itself (McFall, 2009).

Using images in advertisements did not even appear until the mid-19th century. Bold, italics, asterisks among other grammatical techniques were used in print to make the advertisement stick out (Addison, The Tatler, 14/9/1710: 1).

Now images plague the industry and include little to no description about the product itself. Advertisements are coming in all different shapes and forms so it may even be hard to recognize that you’re actually looking at one (Callon, Advertising class lecture)

A great example of this would be product placement, specifically in music videos. In my previous blog post about globalization, I referenced the characteristics of the US dominance model in society. Consumers are interested in success and reputation. They aspire to be like the famed Hollywood figures that so many people look up to.

“Advertisements seem to offer an insight into what one nineteenth-century author described as ‘the wants, the losses, the amusements and the money-making eagerness of the people’.” (McFall 2004, 2)

So what exactly is product placement? It’s when a manufacturer will pay for their product to be in a feature film, music video or other outlet so it will gain more exposure to the customers. This really makes it difficult for us to distinguish between ads and not ads. (“Good to Know!”, 2017)

One music video that really stuck out to me was Hold it Against Me by Britney Spears. Throughout her performance, you can see images of SONY products being flashed on screen or used by the performers. Subconsciously, one may relate the product to their absolute favourite singer, Britney Spears. In this way there’s an emotional connection between the consumer and the product. The other way it could work is just from mere exposure to seeing the image (Britney Spears- Hold It Against Me, 2011).

The strength of this approach is in fact the increased product exposure. Some advertisers are clever enough to make the customers not even realized that they’re seeing an ad. They want them to feel like they’re choosing it on their own without the influence of the industry.

The weakness falls where we get too many industries putting their products together. Synergy is a great thing for this economy, although the talent of the music artists can get lost with all of this product placement. If it’s takes over the screen more than it should, it can distract away from the main performance.

-Ashley Edwards

Britney Spears- Hold It Against Me. JIVE Records: Sony Music Entertainment, 2011. video.

“Good One to Know!” N.p. , 2017. Wed. 25 Feb. 2017

Liz McFall, 2004. Advertising: A Cultural Economy (Culture, Representation and Identity series). 1 Edition. SAGE Publications Ltd.

Liz McFall, L. 2009. Advertising: A Cultural Economy. London: SAGE.

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