Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the second installment of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, the blog series that reminds us how ridiculously obvious modern product placement can be. Whether intentionally or not, it would appear as though the bright minds working in the film and television industries just can’t manage to weave believable occurrences of brand integration into their movies and shows.
Think you can get through a few more instances without cringing? There’s only one way to find out for sure!
Just to ease you back into it, we’ll start with…
Remember how 30 Rock kicked off the festivities in Part 1 of this series? Well, it was for a good reason. For product placement done right, look no further:
No doubt about it: it’s tough to top Tina Fey and the gang when it comes to tongue-in-cheek humor. 30 Rock is known for being a cut above most comedy shows, and cleverly self-referential moments like this are a big part of the reason why.
There’s nothing at all wrong with a video game or two popping up in our favorite shows, but take a close look at what’s happening here:
Under normal circumstances, a mob boss playing Mario Kart is a recipe for success. Sadly, the recipe is handled too poorly here to be palatable. This is exactly the kind of condescending and oversimplified presentation that lessens the legitimacy of video games. Watching this clip, one has to wonder whether the producers of The Sopranos have played a single game in their entire lives (or even watched someone else play, for that matter). They may have created one of the most successful shows in recent history, but they sure as hell aren’t earning any extra points for realism here.
Do they honestly think that switching between single-player and multiplayer game modes is instantaneous? Do they believe that “kicking ass” means finishing in 4th place (out of eight total racers)? Presumptions like that may be forgivable, but the nerve to suggest that it only takes one hand to play a video game is not. Then again, perhaps only Mario Kart fans care enough to complain.
Leave it to the daytime soaps to bring us the following gem:
While I’m glad that Arianna will be “back to normal before we know it,” I can’t help but feel that she could have been more subtle with her Midol endorsement. Being a guy and all, I’m likely not in the demographic that the producers of Days of Our Lives have in mind when it comes to their marketing efforts or promotional techniques, so it’s probably not my place to comment on the subject matter of this particular scene. As far as I know, this is how young women recommend these products to one another. But a three second close-up shot of the packaging? Probably not necessary.
Well, folks, there you have it! Could these instances have been filmed in a more realistic manner by the showrunners? Possibly. Would they have been as entertaining if that were the case? Most likely not.
With the exception of the 30 Rock clip, these examples illustrate what not to do when it comes to showing reputable brands and products onscreen. And since there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of examples out there, you might just see Part 3 of this series before you know it.
Which example is your favorite here? Are these selections enough to satisfy your product placement quota for the month?