Product Placement, a short review – “The Shadow Knows”

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Since the 1950’s product placement has been around in movies. Like all great stories, it started with an “African Queen” and some Gordon’s Gin. But it has really existed since Jules Verne’s, “Le Tour du monde en 80 jours”, 1873. Where, supposedly, shipping companies lobbied to be included in his book.

To put it bluntly, product placement is paid for time and space that is integrated into TV shows, films, podcasts or webcast and sometimes even radio programs.

Product placement lends itself to everything from a major character picking up a can and drinking Pepsi to a dialogue about a product during the movie. Like the one that transpires between Lamont Cranston and his arch-nemesis in the “Shadow.” A 1994 film adaptation of a pulp magazine character and later a US radio broadcast in the 1930’s.

Arch-nemesis: In three days, the entire world will hear my roar, and willingly fall subject to the lost empire of Shan Kahn. That is a lovely tie, by the way. May I ask where you acquired it?
Lamont Cranston: Brooks Brothers.
Arch-nemesis: Is that mid-town?
Lamont Cranston: 45th and Madison. You are a barbarian.
Arch-nemesis: Thank you. We both are.

But let us not overlook that simple product placement is just as effective as more direct product placement. For instance, in the hit TV show Psych, Shawn, the fun and wild fake psychic, uses an Apple MacBook Pro while Gus, his partner and straight man in the routine, uses a Dell PC. This also reinforces the message that Apple has been promoting with its Above the Line Advertising Campaign, AKA “Get a Mac.

These simple types of product placement might seem irrelevant but they do reinforce a subconscious message to you, the audience. Think about that the next time you go out and try to decide the type of shoes, computer, office software or t-shirt that you are going to buy.

That is about it for this post. Right now we are off to buy new White Apple MacBooks for the office. ; )

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