I would just like to create this post to introduce an important part of my research into Branded Entertainment (specifically my focus on Music Videos) in my group’s research project.
This important aspect of, which can be argued to be where some aspects Branded Entertainment have developed from, is called Product Placement. This has a huge history in the music video business, especially with mainstream pop music, which will often employ the usage of product placement in order to fund the elaborate music videos that are ‘required’ for the artist to make an impression.
I would like to introduce this aspect of the beginnings of Branded Entertainment by comparing its usage in two videos- one video has (in my opinion) utilised product placement cleverly, embedding the product into the narrative and aesthetic of the video, while the other video simply does not even try to do this.
Here is the first video, which is called “Notorious” by the British Girl Group “The Saturdays” (I have skipped to the point in the video, just before the girls finish up their “work” and hop into the elevator where the product placement occurs, just to give it some context):
As you can see here, the product placement has been utilised very cleverly and in an artistic way in which it not only fits into the scene aesthetically, but it also contributes to the narrative. The girls have finished up their hard day of work and it is time to go and party, but in order to do this they must change into their party outfits. This, however, means that they must also re-apply their make-up, hence an opportunity to place a little product into the scene! The group has clearly been clever as to what product they think would be suitable to feature in the video and how they would build this product into the story- I think it is done really well. They even don’t linger too much on these shots where it would become awkward, they cleverly and clearly show the product in a good light, then move along, which in my opinion is so much more effective than lingering on the shot where the product is the main focus in the frame.
And here is “We R who we R” by Ke$ha, a music video which (in my opinion) does not utilise product placement very well (I have also skipped to the point in the video where this occurs- watch for 20-30 seconds):
In this video, it is clear that the product placement (being the dating website “Plenty of Fish”) does not blend in with the narrative and aesthetic of the scene. Of course, companies want their product to be seen and stand out, however this product stands out in a negative way that can anger fans and shed a bad light on the artist. In this case, of course it is obscure because a DJ would most certainly not be sitting on a dating website in the middle of their set.
Straight after we see this dating website sitting obscurely within the aesthetics of the nightclub scene, we are shown another product almost instantly! In this case it is some random brand of Vodka, which seems more fitting for a scene such as this (Vodka is not unusual to be seen in a nightclub), however having this product appear straight after the Plenty of Fish website puts emphasis on the fact that there is product placement in this video, which again, can have negative effects on the artistic appreciation of the clip.