Product placement is a fairly dirty phrase among artistic purists, and it’s understandable.

Who wants a computer-generated Bob’s Big Boy ad placed somewhere in a scene from Godfather?

While that is not (yet) an actual fixture, the movement is becoming more prominent – and more accepted – as technology makes it more readily available.

A BBC report revealed some startling machinations that could serve to really annoy viewers.

BBC cites the first example in the 1919 Buster Keaton comedy The Garage, “which featured the logos of petrol firms and motor oil companies.”

In 2019, according to analysis from PQ Media, product placement value approached $21 billion including films, TV shows and music videos.

Product placement can be physically in a scene, but it’s much easier to leverage emerging technology and simply “place” the advertising after the product (film, TV, video etc.) is released.

A possibility from the BBC story: 

“Advertisers could put new labels on the champagne bottles in Rick’s Cafe in Casablanca … or get Charlie Chaplin to promote a fizzy drink. And then a few weeks, months or years later the added products can be easily switched to different brands.”

And, from the Orwellian world, the idea of targeting individual viewers – like we see in our social media feeds – is taking hold.

Roy Taylor, the chief executive of Californian-based business Ryff, says, via BBC, his firm is applying the tactic, and that the product placement changes depending on who is watching.

If you’re partial to wine, the lead actor could be drinking a particular bottle that you might be tempted to try. More of a beer person? Watch as the actor lifts a cold one.

It’s a step too far for many, but that doesn’t mean it’s not coming soon to a screen near you.

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