Placement of Products

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Going too far...?

On the topic of “taking it too far”—what about product placement in films aimed at children?

The recent release “Curious George,” a Universal Pictures film, was the first to take a leap into the territory of product placement into kiddy movies. From George the monkey eating Dole bananas, to The Man in the Yellow Hat driving a red Volkswagen Touareg, the brand names appear to run rampant (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/10/AR2006021002260.html).

We already have legislation in place dictating what can and cannot be advertised during commercial time to children—is product placement a step around those laws?

At first, I thought so. But thinking about this more carefully, I realized that it was not the children seeing this movie who were going to be asking their parents for Dole bananas. It was the parents taking their children to see this film that were supposed to see the VW symbol on the car. A movie aimed at children will always fill the theater halfway up with parents. Disney has acknowledged this fact for years, which is why their timeless classics make fans out of the parents as well. So really, the children aren’t being targeted, and our minds can rest at ease…right?

Doubtful. I’m sure that product placement directly for children will eventually creep onto our screens. But even so, the children are not the ones with the buying power or the money in the family. No matter how hard advertisers try to reach the children, they still have to go through the parents. If a child sees his favorite star eating a sugary cereal in a movie and wants to eat it for that reason alone, he still has to convince his parents to buy that cereal. It’s not as simple as it would be to market to parents.

So no matter how far product placement goes, even if it takes the leap to boldly targeting children, the parents are still the gatekeepers.

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