In the upcoming movie Transformers, watch closely and you'll notice something. A lot of the vehicles are GM.
The new Pontiac Soltice GXP reportedly gets a lot of screen time -- along with other GM vehicles including GMCs, Hummers and a Camaro concept car.
Sure, there are a few other models. Even a fancy Ford Mustang. But for the most part, this film is being labeled a GM love-fest.
I don't know how much GM paid to have such a prominent role in Transformers, but such blatant product placement is nothing new. It used to be subtle, but not anymore. Almost every major motion picture features a handful of easily recognizeable products. Heroes don't order a beer at the bar anymore... they drink a clearly visible Heineken. The computer hacker uses a laptop with the Apple logo staring you in the face. You get the idea.
Even films like Shrek the
Third, set in make-believe animated kingdom, manage to work in a few ads for stores such as Foot Locker and Hooters.
So does product placement in movies work? Obviously, or companies wouldn't do it. According to MoviePlacement.com, product placement has been working ever since Popeye opened his first can of spinach. The website contends that movie studios spend an average of $18 million in marketing per film. That's $18 million dollars worth of advertising -- with someone else doing most of the work -- if you can get your product featured prominently in a major motion picture.
The website BrandChannel.com keeps track of product placement in films. Some of the top companies that like to use the silver screen for extra advertising: Ford, Coca-Cola, Apple, Mercedes, Chevy, Pepsi, Budweiser and Sony.
Normally I might rail against something like this. But my grandma always said to pick my battles. And this is a battle I know I won't win.
(Then again, Grandma thought Matlock was the best TV detective -- and we all know Columbo would kick Matlock's ass.)
Product placement is here to stay. And it will surely get more blatant as time goes on. But who cares, I say. If you're the kind of person who rushes out to buy a Solstice because it was in Transformers, or drinks Heineken because Hugh Jackman drank it in Swordfish, well... then you're the kind of person Obi Wan Kenobi might call "weak-minded."
Just because something appears in a movie or TV show doesn't necessarily mean it's a good product. Caveat movie-tor. Let the movie-gover beware!
Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt." Go ahead and write me.