Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Product Placement

There's a lot to say about product placement. There are a lot of reasons to try and avoid it as much as possible, aside from the fact that that company can sue you for not asking for their permission to use their product name. One would think that they would consider the fact that it's free "advertising" for them. However, I think company's get paranoid about their product being associated with a bad persona or bad "representation".

Just that fact alone takes me out of a film when I watch it. Which is the oposite of what you want. A film is meant to capture it's audience and give them an escape of some sort and to evoke an emotion at the same time. Things like product placement interrupt that process. As soon as your viewer thinks "Oh, yeah I'm watching a film!" then your message has nearly failed. Often, when I see product placement in a film I automatically think "wow, I wonder if they got permission to use that, and if they did how much they had to pay those companies to use their product name in their film. Granted, it is VERY difficult to remove me from the "film" mentality in that I'm always analyzing the behind the scenes magic of the film it self. I'm always trying to de-code films. This makes it somewhat difficult to enjoy certain things in films. For instance, I watched the film "Ted" in theaters. I absolutely HATED it. I refuse to do a review of it in my vlog but since this blog is not as broad and more detailed I will do a mini-review of why I don't like it.

I know that probably most people don't agree with me in hating this film. However, this changes nothing for me. The reason I don't like this film is because, I'm more of a "Film" than a "TV" person. I literally can't remove myself far enough from this film to enjoy it at all. I was also never a fan of family guy. (Yes I have three heads, feel free to keep staring). Anyways, If you love family guy then you'd love this film. I've always found most of the humor of family guy to be rude, crude and similar to laughing at the handi-capped kid at school. It's usually a very "bully-infused" type of humor. The idea of a talking bear to me is a gimmick and I knew the idea of it would not work for as long as it was attempting to. There was also a story behind it which I feel was completely disconnected to the humor. The story of a man who can't seem to grow up and give up his teddy bear is realistically a sad story and pretty lame at that. Then to attempt to make that funny with a gimmick is to me a recipe for disaster. Granted there were some things in the film that were funny, and I laughed at some things. But over all I was not thrilled by it. It was like sitting and listening to someone spew jokes about things that aren't meant to be funny at all for more than an hour. It was like that one friend we all have that doesn't think there's a moral boundary to what's funny, the guy who starts telling Michael Jackson jokes at his funeral, makes jokes about the holocaust while in a synagogue, or jokes about the bat mat shooting while waiting in line to see it in theaters just days after it happened. These are the kind of people I don't like to encourage. Sure some of these types of jokes seem harmless and sometimes even I can't help but laugh at them. However, these types of joke in my eyes shouldn't be given my money. They shouldn't be something we encourage. That's just my opinion and I'm sure there are people out there who would riot against my argument, and if we were in the appropriate time and place I could be beheaded! Not really, but at least I'm sure that there are a lot of people who disagree with me and I respect them for it. In any case, I think it's a good idea to keep it in mind that there is a demographic out there that won't pay to see a film filled with that type of humor. I wouldn't have gone and seen it myself if my boyfriend hadn't dragged me there by saying "we always watch what you want to watch". I'm glad I gave it a chance just so I could prove how much I wouldn't and don't like it. However, if you love family guy and that kind of humor and talking gimmicks, then you'll probably like the film. It's certainly no the film for me however. If you find you like a lot of the same films I do and also don't have much of a taste for family guy humor, you'll probably agree with me. By the way they even had the audacity to mention "family guy" in the film's dialogue. Which also brings me out of the film and makes me think "oh, yeah I'm watching a film...and they just referenced their own material." I can only hope I would never do that to my audience. I felt violated almost. The other thing is that it was very much a kid-type gimmick in that it was a talking teddy bear. I would never take my kids (let alone anyone) to see that film.

So much for a mini-review. I actually could go through in much more detail of why I don't like it. In any case I am a very difficult person to please when it comes to certain things in film. Since I know the ins and outs I don't tend to like things that seem childish or cheap, at least not enough to give it a majority of my money or time. So perhaps I'm a pretty bias person to judge a film in that I am not the typical audience or demographic. However, I am a consumer in film and it's important to appeal to the widest demographic as you can. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. It's important to know that demographic if you want to make money. If you don't really care about making money in the media (anything that requires a demographic to make money) don't worry about your appeal. By all means don't be afraid to do something new and different, but if you are, don't be opposed to criticism. It can only make you better and more appealing.

Back to the subject, product placement is something that pulls me out of a film. It's ok if it's relevant to the story or the character (and as long as you have the money to support that product placement). But when it's a prop of your character's that has something on it that represents a product, it automatically represents a piece of the character. If your character wears a brand name sweater, then maybe that means they belong to a certain "type" or "group". Maybe they're preppy, maybe they're gothic, maybe they're something that represents that company. But when it's completely irrelevant to the story, it becomes distracting to your character establishment. It may even begin to create a future stigma of other characters that may not even be true. Maybe people who buy "said product" are more likely to "do what the character is doing". Honestly that's a stretch. However, you might want to try to keep products out of it. If your character is using a named product, they are automatically branded to that name. Also, some of my favorite films do use product placement. It sometimes doesn't seem to bother me, but when it's very prominent or clear in the film, it begins to bug me a little. It's one of the smallest things to think about on set but if it's the difference between being sued and possibly making your film demographic more narrow or even distracting your audience, it's important to remember it.

Also, these are fun. Beware of a gratuitous amount of swearing!!! This maybe contradicting what I said
earlier about bully humor, but If an insult is what your character needs to say or hear, these are very creative! I can appreciate them, especially when they're done tastefully, creatively, and given appropriately to characters who really deserve it.

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