Last night, on a dull and dreary evening I decided a good movie was what I needed after quite a hectic and tiring weekend. Having seen the Ad for Funny People, it seemed just right, easy going, relaxed and expectantly funny. However, what I got was brands aplenty and name dropping like it was some kind of competition amongst the cast! Product placement at it's wildest and most direct.
I am a firm advocate of product placement, subtle mentions, quick glimpses, clever infusions into the script, subconscious awakening and thought provoking. When done correctly. This was not done correctly to say the least. Brands forced into the screen, products mentioned, and mentioned again, the script blatantly written around the inclusion of brands, logo's appearing in every shot, and even advert style close-ups, to really see the product in all it's glory. Is the way forward for product placement in movies? I do hope not. It was embarrassing to watch as a 'marketer', and also as a loyal consumer of some of the affiliated brands. Apple, iPod, Myspace, Puma, Adidas, Nike, Sharp are just a few of the names that appeared, and appeared again throughout the movie, or should I say 'advert'. And I always thought product placement was supposed to be active on some kind of subliminal level.
Despite this, according to the Journal of Marketing, a study on product placement suggests it is more effective than ever before. Even when done so blatantly? Well no. The undercover aspect of the placement remains a key factor in it's success and validity. It states, 'when a product is successfully placed in feature films, the company that makes it enjoys a dramatic boost in it's stock prices.' In this case, I can't honestly see the stock prices of any of the brands mentioned above gaining in any manner from this horrific piece of work. In fact, as an avid Apple user and loyalist, I kind of feel embarrassed and ashamed, but whether I blame the 'movie' or the brand is still in doubt, maybe thats loyalty for you.
Product placement can be effective, worthwhile and more emotionally connecting when done right. But it can also be embarrassing, blatant, shameful and brazen when done wrong.
And the movie itself, well it's not too funny, not very good, rather unrooted, and 2 and a half hours for a somewhat funny 'advert' with no climatic ending is disappointing.