Product Placement – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It is undeniable the impact that Lady Gaga has had over the world in the past 12 months. From New York club kid to global superstar in a relatively short space of time; the woman packs out stadiums and receives diamond (yes, diamond) record sales on an almost weekly basis. She may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but the Lady keeps going strong. This past week, the self appointed ‘Haus of Gaga’, with the help of acclaimed director Jonas Åkerlund, unveiled their latest music promo video. Entitled ‘Telephone’, the video features Lady Gaga and Beyonce launching a prison escape across the American desert.

Like most promo videos of the past decade, there is no lack of product placement. But as with most things Gaga, it isn’t done with any hint of subtlety. This is the product placement equivalent of a slap in the face.

On first count, there are 12 different (and blatant) examples of product placement. These range from the fake ‘Poison TV’ channel, all the way to the powerhouse of Diet Coke. These, of course, are the obvious examples. To the trained eye, this number will triple with the countless costume changes and accessories each character wears. But behind every example is a story — and be it good, bad or ugly — Gaga is presenting them all.

Firstly, the good. Some choices are purely business led, while others are ‘artistic vision’. Sometimes, the two can be the same thing. The characters wear Gaga’s own brand of earphones and listen to her past songs. There is also a huge focus on the (previously ailing) brand of Polaroid; a company, in which Gaga was recently named ‘Creative Director’. Although in your face, these placements just make sense.

But with the good, must come the bad. We are continually confronted with the Virgin Mobile logo; and featuring on a song called ‘Telephone’,this can only be a huge triumph for the brand. But when something is so obviously forced into the video – it’s clear that the logo could have been replaced by a higher bidder at the last moment and when Gaga uses a jail cell pay phone, rather than a Virgin mobile – the message isn’t exactly crystal clear.

Finally we come to the ugly – something Gaga is not afraid of. We see the prison guards log onto a dating website called ‘Plenty of Fish’. Upon further research, this is a real website. Enough said.

When it comes to music videos, Gaga is fast becoming the leader in the field. But with so many examples of product placement forced into one video, there are too many voices shouting for attention. None of the brands come across as being particularly memorable.

Be more memorable; stand out in the crowd. Learn from the video and don’t let Lady Gaga overshadow you. Why not say hello to Vivid today?

Andrew Beedle


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