Self Expression Magazine

Psyche of Product Placements

Posted on the 31 March 2015 by Gopalakrishnan K @gopalmadhav
Recently I had a fateful day of watching a movie called Happy New Year. After going through hell for 3 longest hours of my life, it rekindled my idea to write a post about the concept of product placement in movies. Of course Nokia, the dead brand of Smartphones in India has been placed, stuffed, dumped or superimposed in the movie along with Zee Tv, Videocon and so on. Apart from all these the most marketed brand was called Shah Rukh Khan. I failed to see a character named Charlie in the movie and all I saw was SRK giving reference to all his previous movies. When it comes to the Product placement in movies there are only two names I remember. The primary one I would call as the father of product placement, it is none other than Michael Bay. He makes 100 or so commercials with one coherent product, edit and combine them to form a movie. Transformers is pretty good guide for beginners to experts to learn about it. Transformerswas supposed to be a movie based on the cartoon which was primarily aimed at selling toys. In turn it went on to be a movie, selling toys along with providing ample amount of advertisements for cars, beers, shops, pizzas and whatnots. It is impossible to find a scene where there is no product placement. These cannot be done by some unplanned stranger. It has to be carefully crafted by an artist. The movie might be unappreciable for its unimaginative story. But the optimal usage of screen timing for promoting every product possible was the achievement of the great Michael Bay. The movie surely hits the mainstream and finds a lot of audience but what they fail to notice is the products showcased as an ad to promote the products but see it as a part of the movie itself. This leads to the increase in the promotion of the product. This is the most successful way of marketing the product.We have seen about the God of Product placements. Now we also have to see it in National perspective. As we know that this post started from the National actor turned National Marketer’s movie. Other than him the credit has to be given to the person called Rakesh Roshan who is not only the baap of Hrithik Roshan but also the Baap of Product placements in India. To my feeble knowledge when people were trying to learn about the placing products on screen, he boldly kept a close up shot for Bournvita, and integrated it into the script consistently. He proved that he is no less to Michael Bay in terms of increasing the mind share of Bournvita by repeatedly mentioning its name in the film’s dialogues. Krrish trilogy is the best example. But personally I felt that these product placements didn’t work well. I felt a lot of negativity about products presented in Bollywood, as it seems imposedin a scene where it is not required. But at the same time when a Hollywood movie places they bring a room for it in the script. Here we always go for explicit placing while Hollywood goes for implicit placing of the products. There are some very good movies came in for product placing. Among them I would say that LEGO Movie which actually told the story of Emmet was actually insisting the audience to buy LEGO toys for their kids. It’s just a two hour long commercial which people can’t accept. They felt it as one of the good movies of the year, people mourned when it was not given best animated feature nomination in the Academy Awards.

Psyche of Product Placements


Kept these aside when I was watching a regional film recently in a television I felt that we have a history for product placements. The highest achievement through it is consecutive three times Chief Minister Position of Tamil Nadu and similar in Andhra Pradesh. M.G. Ramachandran in Tamil Nadu and N.T. Rama Rao in Andhra Pradesh convincingly pulled it. They never did propaganda films, all they did was place their product rightly in the place and shape their on screen persona to suit the needy. Beyond that you can see that every song or scene in the M.G.R’s movie has C.N Annadurai’s photo is some place or another and reference to him in some emotional songs. As far as NTR is concerned he just need to appear as a god that was more than enough for them. A marketing campaign is said to be successful only if people convert the interest into action not just talk a lot about it and fail to buy the product. In the case of MGR and NTR they converted each view into VOTES. One might argue this with the propaganda films and compare them with Arnold and other politicians, but the difference here is that they are clear in their motive and achieved what they intended. This is the reason I term it as a product placement. In the case of Arnold and other stars many basked their movie success into political career but unable to integrate it with their movies even so it failed.

Psyche of Product Placements

MGR Rickshawkaran song with CN Annadurai and Mahathma's photo
Source: Youtube/Google Images 

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