Most of us might remember the iconic moment in Steven Spielberg’s movie ET when the lovable alien first tried Reese’s Pieces but did you know Hershey’s paid a million dollars to have that written into the movie’s script? And what about all those other pesky way-too-obvious product placements we see in nearly every Hollywood blockbuster these days? In this educational video remix “A Brief History of Conspicuous Product Placement in Movies” by Oliver Noble, he uses remix to bring to our attention just how intentional, blatant and ubiquitous embedded advertising is in major motion pictures.
As Noble’s video clearly demonstrates, product placement has been around since the silent movie days and has progressively become more and more aggressive. It’s hard to find a recent major film that doesn’t have their hero drinking a Coke, eating at McDonald’s or driving a BMW. Product placement has also found its way into many television shows. Reality TV might be one of the worst offenders with entire shows or episodes dedicated to a particular product (for instance season after season participants on America’s Next Top Model were competing to be the newest Cover Girl). What makes product placement different from an ordinary commercial is how the product is written into the narrative, giving the corporate product contextual support. Watching a movie’s hero quench his thirst with a Dr. Pepper not only promotes brand recognition but it manipulatively tries to create a positive emotional association with the viewer.
Nobel illustrates the history of product placement by appropriating footage from movies and placing them back to back in the remix style of a supercut. He uses title cards to describe the historical trend in between short clips of Hollywood movies. Unlike many other forms of remix, this educational video cites the source footage and the name of the products being promoted as we watch each clip. Seeing so many examples one right after the other helps bring what is supposed to be (at least somewhat) covert advertising to the forefront.