Luke Dringoli
Luke Dringoli
Editor, Social Networks

Not So Gaga For Product Placement

While we’ve seen some brilliantly executed, forward-thinking work this year, a few strategies remain stuck in the ol’ days of advertising. Product placement—usually seen as a very inauthentic tactic—still haunts much of today’s media. Do brands really think it accomplishes much more than ten minutes in the public spotlight? Puh-lease.
Take two high-profile examples: a recent music video from Lady Gaga and a film called The Road.

Her highness’ nine-minute vid for “Telephone” overlays a mediocre Tarantino-esque plot with a number of shameless brand sponsors. Namely Miracle Whip, Virgin Mobile, and dating site Plenty of Fish (??), which all make brief but overt cameos. What’s going on here? Maybe you can connect the dots, because frankly, I’m at a loss:

(View the explicit version at your own risk.)

Then there’s The Road—a post-apocalyptic flick full of overly indulgent food endorsements. It features strategically placed munchies like Cheetos, Dole, Vitamin Water, and Coca-Cola (Worst Product Placement has the full rundown). It’s enough stuff in your face to make you gag.

Apple even joined the party, practically commandeering an episode of Modern Family as it geared up for the iPad’s launch.

Think you can pull a fast one on us? Get real: we won’t pick up your drink because Viggo took a swig, and we’re not looking for love online because we saw it in a video. Paid endorsements are painfully obvious and your audience won’t take the bait. In fact, they might just be turned off completely. Examples like these illustrate the exact wrong approach to associating a brand with a piece of content. Instead, brands should be producing their own content––devoid of interruptions, representative of their audience and actually worthy of remembrance.

Seen any other examples of lazy marketing lately? Send ‘em our way in the comments below—or tweet to us at @postadvertising!

  • Dean, Freelance Copywriter London

    Hi - I agree with everything you say above.

    I came here after reading Kirk Cheyfitz’s piece about Story, on your other site.

    Having worked mainly in traditional advertising, I didn’t really “get” content marketing until I discovered Story.

    After going through your sites though, I heard a “ping”, and a light went on in my head.

    By the way, I first read about Story on the Brand Republic blog.

    Good luck - although I’m sure you don’t need it (I think you’re onto a winner).

  • David Alden

    I couldn’t agree more.

    “Product placement” is just that PLACED. It’s not real and everyone knows it.

    There are billions of images that are being shared by real people everyday online with interesting people, products and places in them. This is the new social media jet-stream.

    If you empower consumers with the right tools and let them tell their story, they will. People want to be heard from their point-of-view, not marketers.


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  • Chris

    Great article Luke.
    Glad to see that others are aware of and understand the (sometimes) blatant uses of product placement in popular media.
    Also, thanks for the great mention regarding “The Road”

    - Chris