The Decline of Product Placement?


Tom Lee says product placement is wearing out its welcome:

We have continually-evolving defenses that let us tune these distractions out. A decade ago I might not have noticed the subtly-placed Aquafina bottle in the medical examiner’s office in The Spirit; now, trained by decades of carefully turned-toward-the-camera product labels on network sitcoms, I couldn’t help but see it. Although I’m sure that its presence still made some small, brand-reinforcing impression, it’s a minute one compared to the success that this technique must have first enjoyed. And, in this case, it was coupled with a healthy dose of resentment at Aquafina for its commercial intrusion into entertainment I’d already paid for.

It’s certainly true that there’s some kind of declining returns involved in something like this, but I’m a bit skeptical that this level of awareness is all that widespread. This particular instance of product placement is going to be totally unsuccessful largely because The Spirit is so boring. But I bet if Nantucket Nectars paid to have their lemonade be Blair Waldorf‘s favorite beverage, that a lot of Gossip Girl fans who love Leighton Meester’s outfits but can’t afford them would start buying the stuff. Indeed, one of the big problems with product placement deals being everywhere is that it’s now difficult for creators to actually give characters these kind of attributes. But lots of people just aren’t that media savvy. I’m told there are even pro wrestling fans who doesn’t realize it’s fake.