"Hey, remember that awesome part where those guys had a conversation in front of a giant corporate logo?" said no one. And yet, product placement has been an accepted way of life for moviemaking, particularly in an age where we’ve struggled to come up with new and innovative ways to push product. On one level, you know that our own lives have product placement: we go to Sears, we drink Pepsi, we (hopefully watch other people!) go to McDonald’s. But to many, the movies are an escape, and you’re thrust out of the film’s world when you see a familiar brand.
Nonetheless, pricey movies can chop a good sum off their budgets by offering a chance for a name brand to pop up in their film. In hoping you DO get taken out of the movie, the company gets recognition for their product, and the movie studio saves a buck or two, while audiences pay good money to watch people eat at Benihana. But audiences look down upon them, and some would even argue that they don’t even pay attention to them. A new study from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School Of Business (via BusinessWeek) claims that you do notice them. Particularly in scary movies.
Clips featuring product placement were showed to test subjects in this study, who were later quizzed about what products they could recall. The study showed that "when people felt fear, they experienced an increased emotional attachment to the brands." Emotional attachment to the brands. That’s some Verhoeven shit right there. The tests discovered that "the emotional attachment increased when the subjects felt alone." Which makes sense in a Psych 101 sort of way. It’s kind of a scary peek at the way the mind works, as the article elaborates:
The need for people to affiliate during fear is so strong that it doesn’t matter what the other side of the affiliation is: an actual person, a bottle of water, a bag of chips, or a corporate logo. It also doesn’t matter if viewers can touch the products or not—simply being in proximity with the viewer makes brand attachment possible.
This is probably the reason why that one dude at your screening of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones screamed, "Ohmygod thismovieis soscary godcocacolailoveyou."
The question is, is this article even relevant anymore? Product placement has evolved, to the point where we expect it, and are more distracted when something like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has its hero dialing up Finder-Spyder* instead of Google. Of course, do we even need to place products in the movie, when the movies themselves are product advertisements?
*Finder-Spyder seems to only be used in television, fyi.