Product Placement in Music Videos

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Anthony Ware
Broadcast Advertising
Professor LoPonte
December 13th 2011
Music Videos and Product Placement
In today’s society, we are bombarded by advertisements everyday of our lives. On average, Americans are potentially exposed to about 600-625 commercial messages in a single day, according to the American Association of Advertising Agencies. These can be in any form, from television or radio commercials, to outdoor billboards, to even the clothes that we wear. Typically, when watching any kind of broadcast media program, we know when the commercial breaks are on and are aware that we are viewing an attempt at getting us to buy something or go somewhere. This, however, is not always the case when advertisers seek to get our attention. A large category for advertising is known as Product placement, where advertisers pay to have products featured during programming or in movies, in addition to the ad’s we see every day. Today, these methods have managed to cross into the Music Video platform, using artists to promote certain brands or companies inside their own promotional visuals.

When MTV first broadcast in 1981, they were known for music, not just music videos. The station was the new “it” venue for the latest on music and news and opened new artistic doors for a generation. The station even had a ban on blatant marketing plugs in music videos and would blur or edit it out of the video completely. Nowadays, not only is MTV now known for such television gems as “The Jersey Shore” and “The Real World”, they also don’t play many music videos. However, when they do, you realize the ban on products in music videos has been given some heavy leeway. You can’t watch many of the latest popular music videos without suddenly realizing that Kodak Cameras are the bee’s knees, or that you want to go out to the bar tonight to try some “Revolucion Tequila”.

Marshall McLuhan said in his book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, “Ideally, advertising aims at the goal of a programmed harmony among all human impulses and aspirations and endeavors. Using handicraft methods, it stretches out toward the ultimate electronic goal of a collective consciousness. When all production and all consumption are brought into a pre-established harmony with all desire and all effort, then advertising will have liquidated itself by its own success”. I feel like product placement falls into what he was talking about and has become one of the more successful ways of advertising a product or service, sometimes even over traditional television spot advertising. In music videos, it’s something that people watch over and over again. It was reported that 57% of young adults in the UK watch music videos on YouTube. When people watch music videos on the internet, they tend to watch them again. Unlike with traditional advertising, product placement in music videos opens the door for the product to be seen repeatedly and in a closer time frame. Unlike advertisements on television that, now with the DVR age, can be fast forwarded and skipped entirely, the target is seeing the product while seeing the music video, which he or she is not so inclined to skip through.

Marshall McLuhan’s theory that says “the medium is the message”, meaning people will get the message effectively or not based on what medium is used as a delivery system. This is where his theory of hot and cool media comes into effect. When delivering a subliminal message, which is what product placement does, you have to have a medium that involves higher sensory participation. For example if a song is playing on the radio, you cannot see that the singer is holding a bottle of Fiji Water. They would have to say during the commercial break that they are sponsored by Fiji. That is unless, of course, you’re like Pitbul and throw some Kodak references in your lyrics. To effectively infiltrate your product into your media, there have to be visuals, which is why product placement is...
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