Placement of Products

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Sponsored Art

I’ve read the statement in many articles defending the use of product placement that “there has never been a separation between art and advertising.” I got to thinking about this statement when some friends brought up William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare wrote many magnificent, timeless plays. However he could not have done so without the assistance and monetary support of his patron, Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. Shakespeare’s art was affected by the views and wants of his patron. Without his support, there would be no play. Art has always been sponsored.

Another, more contemporary example would be Fox News. Fox is known as a politically conservative station. This stems from the owners of the station being supporters of the Republican Party, and donating to the campaigns of their members. Fox doesn’t want to put anything on air that would damage the reputation of the people they donate their money to. While people might not see the news as art, it is still the producers determining what is going to be on air.

So why make such a fuss about product placement? Maybe because it’s more in-your-face. The self-editing of the news and Shakespeare’s patron were behind the scenes. Shakespeare didn’t write plays specifically about how great the Earl of Southampton was. Fox News tries to present their news in an impartial manner. However, people might have objected a little more if Shakespeare had been paid by Nike to write about how wonderful their sneakers are.

But what it all comes down to is that art, in all forms, has always been sponsored. Whether a brand is being physically displayed on screen or money is exchanging hands off camera, this is not a new phenomenon.

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