Product of Society

An Essay by Brittany Danielson

May 5, 2005

Behind every brand label, logo, or product is an assemblage of marketers brainstorming clever advertising tactics aimed to manipulate consumers, (this means you,) through advertising. Most average Canadian and American teenagers would acknowledge that North America has become overwhelmed by commercial globalization, although most of the North American youth doesn't realize the full effects of commercialization, nor the fact that they are a primary target of most advertising campaigns. Ingenious marketers that now find advertorial and commercial ads outdated, are now using an indirect marketing strategy. Product Placement, this is the act of advertising to consumers without their realizing it.

Product placement can be found in music, movies, literature, magazines, the Internet, television, and even video games and cell-phones. It is the single most advanced con used by mass media. Whether the product is directly mentioned without necessarily being promoted, or a logo is just lingering in the background of a movie scene, there are four reasons for product placement. It has been arranged for financial compensation, product compensation, to add what director's call character-realism, or it hasn't been arranged at all, and is merely accidental.

In 2001 Nelly released a record entitled "Air Force Ones" named after, and written about a running shoe Nike released earlier that year. Nelly's hit lasted five weeks on Billboard's charts in the top five, and Nike'sAir Force Ones became an instant trend, earning the company a measurable amount of American dollars that year. Coincidence? I think not.

Although clever, Nike and Nelly's idea was not the first in-tune ad. Jack Norworth's "Take me out to the Ballgame" was written in 1908 and inadvertently advertised the classic snack-food

Crackerjack's, the result of which was lucratively beneficial for founder; F.W. Rueckheim.

As surprising as a pop-star selling shoes through hit singles may be, product and title placement sells food, clothes, brands, vehicles, cigarettes, instruments, sports, alcohol, and even cities and countries. The movie Jose and the Pussycats, which premiered in 2001, border-lined as a mockery of product placement, with 29-plus brands and names in the trailer alone including Bebe, Billboard Magazine, Coke, Kodak, Pizza Hut, Target, and Starbucks. Although profitable, some argue the movie made a statement and claim it was, "art imitating art, imitating life," while others see the film as another example of teenage-targeting product integration. With the exception of select industrial and low-budget films, advertising in movies found in typical North American theatres generally target the youth age group. This comes as no surprise as American statistics show teenagers are three times as likely to be frequent moviegoers.

The popular television series American Idol, signed a $6 million dollar sponsorship contract with Coke for their third season; it would be naive to think it is merely fluke that theprogram's "red room" is stocked with Coca-Cola merchandise and decor.
Advertising and commercialism has evolved from subliminal messaging to the almost insultingly blatant.

Steven Heyer, President COO of the Coca-Cola Co. sees product placement a positive influence on healthy competition in the product-driven industry,

"That's how products, brands, and businesses stay fresh, relevant and in demand. It's all about the right associations, at the right time with the right idea. The right associations with the right movies, artists, video games and events illustrate, enhance and accelerate the contemporization of core brand values."

On March 31st, 2002 the New York Times published an article the disagreed with Heyer's opinion, it had new found hope for the youth of North America. It predicted that by 2010 the new generation of "echo-boomers', born between the year 1977 and 1994 will avoid categorization and have more media-awareness that the "baby-boomers", and generation before them.
If this is true, echo-boomers will question present commercialism ploy, and increase globalized awareness in hopes of defending the public from further exploitation be the media.

Most of the baby-boomers have confidence that their generation were media-literate when it has later been admitted the youth of their era were widely misled. To prevent history repeating, echo-boom babies must continue challenging commercialism with questions like, "Is this a sales pitch, or sales intrusion?" and, "Am I being entertained, or exploited?"

Is it not logical to start now?