The First Rule Of Product Placement In Songs: You Don't Talk About Product Placement In Songs

from the that-ought-to-make-quite-a-tune dept

We've pointed out recently that as brand advertisers recognize increasingly that content is advertising, they're looking to all sorts of new ways to do "product placement" in places you might not expect. For example, we've talked about product placement in novels. But, what better place for product placement than in a song? Lots of famous songs mention brand names, and it seems some creative advertisers are now going out and trying to sell such placement. At least that's what's being suggested after some guys who received an unsolicited offer to have their brand in a song went and published the email they received. The email notes:
"I'm writing because we feel you may be a good company to participate in a brand integration campaign within the actual lyrics of one of the worlds most famous recording artists upcoming song/album."
Of course, now there's also something of a dispute concerning the publicizing of the email. The guy who apparently sent the email is threatening to sue the recipients who posted it to their blog -- though it's entirely unclear what they'd be suing over, other than that someone called them out for their marketing practices.

In the meantime, I don't see any problem with bands mentioning brands in their songs, but it seems like there are much better ways of doing that, which don't seem quite so tacky as unsolicited emails asking people to pay up to get included in a song.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Steven, Sep 19th, 2008 @ 5:53pm

    Nothing new.

    I've heard several song that were customized for the particular radio station I was listening to.

    The often is done by changes lyrics from "blah blah radio" to "blah blah station name" and must be done by the artist as it's very seamless.

    It really doesn't surprise me that this is done with other products.

     

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  2.  
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    Curious George, Sep 19th, 2008 @ 7:40pm

    I'd like to know

    I'd like to know what is wrong with posting an unsolicited email.

    What's next, snail mail spam that I am not allowed to shread ?
    Or maybe telephone spam I am not allowed to fast forward and delete. If you give me something, isn't it mine to do with what ever I please ?

    And lets not forget the guy that said going to the bathroom during a commercial is stealing TV.

     

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  3.  
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    Evan, Sep 19th, 2008 @ 11:23pm

    You forgot to mention...

    ...that the recipient of the e-mail runs the Anti-Advertisement Agency.
    A e-mail from the Kluger Agency, which performs such product placements, mistakenly sent to Jeff Crouse of the Anti-Advertising Agency and Double Happiness Jeans, provides a rare glimpse into the secretive market for song lyric product placement.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2008 @ 2:27pm

    fightclub?

     

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  5.  
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    Mark, Sep 20th, 2008 @ 11:43pm

    My baloney has a first name...

    Serious music is not supposed to have commercials in it. Ever since Milly Vanilly or Vanilly Ice we should know that when you listen to commercial radio even the songs are commercials. But they used to just be a commercial for themselves, played over and over through payola or creative licensing schemes. Soon J-Lo will be selling her perfume and 50¢ his cars while we play them on the juke box. But what could possibly be worse than hearing what were devoutly counter-culture anti-commercial bands like Led Zepilin and Black Sabbath or newer underground people like The Fall, Nick Drake, Santogold in car tire commercials or soft drink commercials? I really removes the feeling that just you and some of your friends know about them and they are yours, and puts them into the realm of Rancid and Limp Bizkit. I am a big fan of the free market but quit co-opting my favorite musicians!!! Underworld should not be background music on National Geographic!!!

     

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  6.  
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    Ronald Hobbs, Sep 21st, 2008 @ 5:53am

    Mariah Carey

    Didn't mariah carey do a song with youtube in it? don't know if it was arranged, and the song was rubbish.

    Unless it's parody/criticism commercial products don't do well in art.

    I think I might just have draw a line from Mariah to Art. I must have screwed up.

     

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  7.  
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    Gozza, Sep 21st, 2008 @ 7:46am

    Weird Al comes to mind...?

     

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  8.  
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    TriZz, Sep 21st, 2008 @ 8:11am

    Air Force Ones...

    ...enough said.

     

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  9.  
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    Jim, Sep 21st, 2008 @ 11:33am

    Re: My baloney has a first name...

    What's a juke box?

     

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  10.  
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    Evan, Sep 21st, 2008 @ 11:29pm

    Re: My baloney has a first name...

    As much as I dislike Limp Bizkit, there is something good to be said about them-

    As commercialized as they were in their heyday, they have always been anti-censorship, anti-RIAA, and all for the promotion of and sharing of free music.

    When Napster first took hits from the RIAA and other organizations for facilitating P2P music sharing, Limp Bizkit was one of the first groups to hop on board the Napster train.

    They help multiple free concerts in support of Napster, along with other acts.

    Anyway, just pointing out that they aren't all bad.


    Also- your notion that "just you and some of your friends know about them and they are yours" screams of elitism.

    I, too, listen to underground music, but I share it with everybody I know every chance I get.

    If you are making music, isn't exposure a good thing?

     

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  11.  
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    Evan, Sep 21st, 2008 @ 11:29pm

    Re: Mariah Carey

    Andy Warhol would like a word with you.

     

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  12.  
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    Michael, Sep 22nd, 2008 @ 12:57am

    This goes back a bit

    Getting a name drop in a major rap song has been a little business all its own for the past few years. But it's a double-edged sword, as artists can be volatile and end up in the news for the wrong reasons.

    In Africa, it is not uncommon for performers to write songs praising individuals that pay to be immortalised. It's one way of getting some money out of the music business.

    Is that where we are now in Europe and the US?

    There has also been some spillover in the other direction: ads that became hits. The two best-known examples are "I'd Like to teach the Word to Sing" (Coke) and "I Pull my Blue Jeans On", sung By David Dundas (I can't remember the brand!).

     

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  13.  
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    SteveD, Sep 22nd, 2008 @ 2:59am

    Re: I'd like to know

    I'd heard somewhere that it falls under copyright infringement.

    In theory it fits, but I honestly don't know if its ever come up in court.

     

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  14.  
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    Twinrova, Sep 22nd, 2008 @ 4:06am

    Rebuttal?

    "I don't see any problem with bands mentioning brands in their songs"

    Of course you don't. That's been your problem.

     

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  15.  
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    Mike (profile), Sep 22nd, 2008 @ 4:10am

    Re: Rebuttal?

    Of course you don't. That's been your problem.

    Uh. That's not a rebuttal. That's just stating the opposite. Can you explain what's the actual *problem* with someone naming a brand in a song? Where's the *harm*? If people don't like it, they won't listen to the songs.

     

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  16.  
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    Paul Simon, Sep 22nd, 2008 @ 4:14am

    Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away!

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2008 @ 4:19am

    NEIL YOUNG LYRICS
    "This Note's For You"

    Don't want no cash
    Don't need no money
    Ain't got no stash
    This note's for you.

    Ain't singin' for Pepsi
    Ain't singin' for Coke
    I don't sing for nobody
    Makes me look like a joke
    This note's for you.

    Ain't singin' for Miller
    Don't sing for Bud
    I won't sing for politicians
    Ain't singin' for Spuds
    This note's for you.

    Don't need no cash
    Don't want no money
    Ain't got no stash
    This note's for you.

    I've got the real thing
    I got the real thing, baby
    I got the real thing
    Yeah, alright.

     

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  18.  
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    Twinrova, Sep 22nd, 2008 @ 4:23am

    Re: Re: Rebuttal?

    I know it's not a rebuttal. You sure don't waste any time taking down people's remarks to suit your interest, do you?

    Regardless, we don't need to hash this aspect, so let's stay on point.

    Where's the harm? People are spending money to buy entertainment, not commercials. Most times, people won't even know the product placement is there until after the song has been purchased. Sure, you can argue that most people buy a song after they've heard it, but let's go further.

    Imagine someone saying "Dude, this song rocks! Okay, they talk about Adidas, but no matter. I'll buy their album because the other songs aren't like this." They buy the album, and what do you know, the rest are like this.

    The consumer is out of the money they've spent for a disc full of ads. One can even argue subliminal messaging here, but an entirely different conversation.

    As a consumer, I'm getting tired of buying ads. I'm tired of DVDs that won't let me skip past previews of movies that I'm not interested in (imagine, now 5 years later, I still can't fast forward). I'm tired of the media forcing my hand at what I can, and cannot do, with the content I've purchased.

    I've read blogs which you've written that states advertisers and artists are now "working together". Yippee. Just what I want, more damn ads.

    I know you feel content and ads are the same thing, but when there are TWO DISTINCT notions, they are no longer the same.

    A few years ago, there was an interesting article about consumers' toleration for advertising. It was shocking to see the majority agreed product placement was much less irritating than a commercial break and would be more open to it.

    I'm guessing someone found this article because this is what's happening now.

    Funny, because much of the response to last season's Knight Rider movie and Smallville's Stride episode proves that too much placement makes consumers feel angry.

    Of course, NBC chose to ignore the remarks from its fans on their very own blog pointing out the UNREALISTIC nature of the show when the other car company logos were missing.

    I don't make this stuff up. It's out there.

    And Mike, while you may feel content and ads are the same thing, you're going to witness the backlash of consumers when they feel they don't have a choice to block it out, regardless if it's "disguised" as content.

    Doing it with ONE song may be okay. Doing it with ALL songs is going to cause problems, and advertisers don't know when to stop.

     

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  19.  
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    SteveD, Sep 22nd, 2008 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Rebuttal?

    "People are spending money to buy entertainment"

    You lost me round here. Isn't half the problem that a lot of people aren't spending money on entertainment any more?

    But the point you're conveniently avoiding is that people don't have to buy a song, or listen to a song if they don't like it.

    If turns out its a business model that doesn't work, well...it won't work.

    Besides, there's lots of media that has advertisement in it that you pay for. When I watched I Robot at the cinema I paid £6 for a half hour of adverts before a 2hr film, stuffed full of product placement for Audi, Adidas, Fedex...a bunch of subscription-based MMO's include adverts when they're subscriber numbers drop off so they can maintain the quality of new content for the remainder instead of jacking up the subscription fee.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Twinrova, Sep 22nd, 2008 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Rebuttal?

    "You lost me round here. Isn't half the problem that a lot of people aren't spending money on entertainment any more?"
    Maybe it has to do with the ads? Believe it or not, there are still a few of us who do pay for things.

    "But the point you're conveniently avoiding is that people don't have to buy a song, or listen to a song if they don't like it."
    Actually, this isn't true. Songs in movies, commercials, TV shows, etc. It's getting to a point where it's impossible to avoid it. That's the advertiser's sole purpose, regardless if people don't like it.

    "half hour of adverts before a 2hr film"
    BIG difference here because the ads are before the movie, not during, which is what this blog is pointing towards.

    Imagine, now if you spent 6 quid on a movie that was nothing but those very ads you just watched? Having an Audi in the movie is one thing, but purposely filming a movie around the Audi is quite another, and that's where "content" is heading.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    JIm12, Sep 27th, 2008 @ 7:51pm

    Can anyone say "Bullshit"

    This whole thing is BS. Wired corrected the story 3 or 4 times already..Advertising in music has gone on for at least the last 8 years..not a big "break" for anyone

     

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