Pesky product placement

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Have you ever heard of product placement? If you haven't heard of it, you've definitely seen it.

Have you ever heard of product placement? If you haven't heard of it, you've definitely seen it.

Remember watching your favorite TV show and up pops one of the characters cruising in a particular car? Or how about when that guy in the movie was drinking a can of Pepsi or Coke? I bet a few more ideas have popped into your mind.

The question is "Why are companies using product placement as a means to showcase their business?"

Society is bombarded with so many advertisements that we're just plain sick of them. You walk onto a subway: there's a big poster plastered of some fabric softener or a new film to be released. You take a stroll down the street in the city and chances are you'll see a billboard or a banner showcasing a television show or McDonald's new McCafe drinks. Advertising is becoming annoying and now we have the advantage of blocking some ads out.

Technology is changing. Most people can now enjoy the luxury of skipping the boring commercials and advertisements on televisions with the help of a handy PVR. People can actually decide now what advertisements they want to see. When you pop your DVD into the player, it's your choice - skip the previews or head straight to the movie. We can't really avoid advertisements on the streets or subways, but the classic commercials on television can be avoided, creating a drop in marketing for some companies.

As clever as it may be, companies have decided to showcase their products on displays we can't skip. Product placement now comes into play.

In films, music videos, television shows, even on news programs, product placement can be seen. Characters and persons in these spots will use or make reference to products that the company is selling. Think of American Idol - Randy, Paula and Simon would be sipping on their drinks at the judges table throughout the show. Did you ever notice that they were drinking from Coke cups?

Most people probably don't even notice product placement until you think hard on it - then you'll spot it everywhere.

Consumer electronics and computers are the most integrated source of product placement. Most films feature the characters using a cell phone, laptop computer, or some type of electronic device. All of these devices usually have a brand name, which is made noticeable (but not too obvious) to the viewer. In the film adaptation of Sex and the City, the main character, Carrie Bradshaw, is seen using an Apple computer and purchasing a cell phone from Sprint.

Carrie is also a notorious shopper. As part of many television shows that attract the female population, clothing is a product that frequents the television marketplace. She's seen wearing Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Manolo Blahnik throughout the series of the television show and film.

Another example I'd like to mention is on my favorite television show, Being Erica. CBC's show involved numerous product placements by high name companies. A character in the show is an employee of a TD Canada Trust bank.

Another character purchases a pink Ford Fiesta. The same character then stops drinking coffee and switches to Tetley Infusions Iced Tea. It's not that I'll stop watching the show just because of product placements, but it gets a bit annoying.

The worst part of the scheme of product placement is that it works. It works extremely well. As a matter of fact two thirds of advertisers use this method. Product placement dates way back to the nineteenth century, but made its big debut in the '90s - since becoming one of the most popular means of advertising.

Advertising is essential to any company. The company needs to get their products out there to the public and advertising accomplishes this. Without it - many businesses would plummet to their deaths. I'm sure you can think of a few product placements that are too farfetched, but companies can't please everyone.

Their only goal is to sell their products, in whatever way possible and that's just what they're doing. But I hope anyone doesn't think I'll be quitting drinking coffee for iced tea, buying a Ford Fiesta anytime soon or popping on a pair of Manolo Blahniks.


Organizations: Pepsi, McDonald's, McCafe Apple Gucci Louis Vuitton CBC TD Canada Trust

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