Jurassic World is coming out, and has engaged with viral marketing, including an In-universe website and a cute publicity stunt, with Jurassic Park’s infamous transport crates conspicuously placed in a London train station. However Universal Pictures isn’t the only one advertising Jurassic World, as Samsung has signed up to have product-placement added into the movie. Interspersed between raptor taming and Dino DNA, will be Samsung tech.
Now I’m not advocating or criticizing product-placement, but if done poorly Jurassic World becomes an awful Samsung commercial. However if done right, product-placement can be unnoticeable, even enrich the narrative.
Product-Placement in popular culture from movies to videogames is almost necessary for film production (it practically funds Michael Bay’s career). However it often gets a bad rap not because the product is necessarily awful but because it can detract from the film’s narrative. For all of the qualities of “I,Robot” and themes of human-robot relationships, Will Smith showing off his All-Star Converse shoes (in the future at that) didn’t send that message. Or how Heads and Shoulders thought it would be a good idea to make it’s shampoo the deus ex machina for the “Evolution” film. The effect wasn’t “ohmygod now I want to buy shampoo!” effect was more like
So how can Product Placement be done right? By not calling attention to it.
Instead of calling it out, or making the director weep by forcing the camera to focus on logos, making product-placement inconspicuous, may go against what ads are supposed to do but it will help not hinder promotion. Viewers are not stupid, we don’t need our reality to be constructed for us to think it weird when products are crowbarred into narratives. By detracting from the narrative it ultimately taints it, along with any positive goodwill to the product itself. While I haven’t watched the movie, Samsung could add product-placement without ruining the overall narrative.
They could do so by making Samsung tech just scene-dressing in a world focused on dino action and Chris Pratt’s ever-brilliant quips. They could understand that the Samsung narrative in the Jurasssic World is that Masrani Global, the fictional company that owns the Jurassic Theme Park, struck a business deal with Samsung to provide all of the technology necessary to run Jurassic Park. So long as there are no blatant closeups of Samsung products or the Samsung logo. I’ll let the “Samsung Innovation Centre” slide as companies do buy naming rights of locations, though this is probably the first time the location is fictional. Here’s hoping another T-Rex will crash into it (it could be a homage!). So long as Samsung does not push itself into the spotlight, Samsung can enhance the Jurassic World narrative instead of obstructing it.
Product-Placement that is just part of the narrative is essential to properly engage with viewers. For example, Intel produced an entire movie for their new tablet. But no one is going to watch movie about a tablet, so the movie focused on it’s wacky puppet world showcasing father-son relationships and let Intel’s tablet look like a natural part of the world. The development of content marketing is about providing something that consumers would want or looked for, not trying to force it down their throats.
Good product-placement should be in line with how a company forms a narrative for the eyes of it’s potential consumer. A product/service should no longer be promoted as the protagonist, rather as the sidekick or a background (but essential) character in a consumer’s own personal narrative. A company should aspire to be Gandalf, not Frodo in a consumer’s narrative.