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Prada Placement

Aug
31
2006

“The Devil Wears Prada” is 109 minutes of product placement, starting with the title.
The thing is, it isn’t annoying. When plucky, fashion-proof heroine Andy reveals her ignorance by asking a caller how to spell “Gabbana,” we all laughed. (No, the movie’s not out yet in Italy, but we expats have our secret channels).


The litany of fashion A-listers, the clusters of glossy big-name store bags, the endless trays of Starbucks actually seemed to make the movie more realistic. In fact, the one false note was the stupid pretend name of the magazine where the heroine works, “Runway.”
It’s a sad day when product placement stands for realism. Remember “Funny Face?” OK, so it was Gershwin, Stanley Donen, Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire and Paris.
But the same basic concept: a Cinderella story, based on a real one, revolving around “Vogue” magazine and its frighteningly powerful editor. And it managed to tell it without brand props.
It’s only going to get worse, if the ominously-titled Global Product Placement Forecast is accurate: the cash pumped into getting brands into movies and TV programs “surged” 42.2% to $2.21 billion last year.
Expectations are that it will be fair weather for this kind of nearly-subliminal advertising, figures this year will be up another 38.8% to $3.07 billion.
Personally, I’m not one of those people who feels compelled to slobber after the BMW driven by James Bond or drink the branded satanic cocktails inspired by the “Prada” movie.
But I do wonder how much we’re letting the idea of having brands in movies somehow make them more “real.”
As far as I know, there haven’t been any full-length mainstream branded movies, though it looks like it won’t take long.
Italian jeans brand Meltin’ Pot financed a flick called “The Lives of the Saints,” a gritty wanna-be edgy story shot in London where the characters are all clad in the company’s clothes, but that fact doesn’t feature in most of the reviews.
Amazon was more straightforward with shorts, featuring Hollywood stars and directors, created to sell products. Most of them were clever, interesting tales — and the products worn or used are listed in the credits, as if they actually “starred” in the movie.
Pretty soon we may pay to see full-length ads, with stories.

Share  Posted by Nicole Martinelli at 10:46 AM | Permalink

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