h1DISCLOSURE: THIS NEWSLETTER IS SPONSORED BY SAY MEDIA. YOU ARE CURRENTLY BEING MARKETED TO.
In July 1982, the heart-warming sci-fi film E.T. The Extra Terrestrial opened to huge Box Office success, eventually becoming one of the most profitable films of all time. But Spielberg and team weren’t the only benefactors of E.T.’s instant status as an American classic - the Hershey company saw profits rise 65% due to Reese’s Pieces prominence throughout the film. This astounding success catapulted the product placement craft into the Hollywood mainstream.
Today, product placement is as ubiquitous in Hollywood as Botox and silicone. Coca-Cola capitalized on the Paula Abdul/American Idol crazy-train as people speculated what kind of valium-infused cocktail she was sipping from her giant Coke cup. And who can forget the mysteriously decorated FedEx package that Tom Hanks's character in Cast Away refused to open (a package that very well could have included a functioning GPS device!) whilst stranded on a deserted island.
Like it or not, product placement is here to stay. The Internet propagates even more media for advertisers to sponsor, integrate and/or buy, and the lines between content and advertising are increasingly blurred. But that’s OK. Like Madge used to say, we're soaking in it. As consumers, we are more active and participatory in our media experiences than ever before, and this participation leads to a sense of ownership. We want good content -- regardless of where it comes from.
Who really cares if informative and entertaining content is sponsored? Well, Morgan Spurlock does, and wants you to as well. In his latest film, "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold" Spurlock documents his attempt to make a film about product placement, marketing and advertising where the entire film is funded by product placement, marketing and advertising. He does this in an effort to get us thinking about how and when brands enter our lives.
The battle for attention is an arms race. And while Spurlock's film may lead to more informed consumers, smart marketers aren't going to stop; they'll continue to mix advertising into content, their soap into your opera. But instead of seeing those two ingredients as conflicting, what if marketers and content creators worked to make them complementary? They could end up creating something clever...or, dare we say, it, something authentic.