Blurry Lines: Product Placement and Celebrity Endorsement

Curator's Note

With the increasing popularity of celebrity-focused magazines and reality TV shows, it appears to be far more difficult to distinguish between what is product placement and what is celebrity endorsement. To quickly extricate the two, celebrity endorsement is defined as a testimonial or “endorsement” consisting of a written, spoken or visual identification. Product placement, on the other hand, is a form of advertising where branded goods or services are placed in a context usually devoid of ads. Typically, celebrity endorsement is understood as providing some sort of disclosure at the time the good or service is featured, whereas product placement does not. This line, however, becomes blurry when we flip through magazines and see celebrities holding branded coffee cups, using branded technology or wearing branded workout gear.

This combination of celebrity endorsement coupled with product placement is better known as celebrity product placement, and it is one of the oldest tricks in the book, which almost always works out perfectly for all parties involved – celebrities get money and brands get exposure. Where celebrities once constantly complained about the paparazzi invading their space, it now appears that more and more of them are jumping at the opportunity to expose themselves in the name of a brand.

So, my main question is, how do we know when this blatant advertising is paid for or when it is simply a celebrity using a product that they enjoy? And, why does it matter?

In our media-driven and celebrity-obsessed society, where we want everything that both of these things “tell” us we should have, we believe that it is possible to be closer to our favorite celebrities (who we have in some ways elevated to royalty status in our casteless society) if we simply drive the same car and wear the same clothes as them. This being the case, sad or not, don’t we at least deserve to know the difference between what our “role models” are being paid to support and what they are choosing to support?

Comments

kaycelyn Atkinson's picture

I don’t think it matters if

I don’t think it matters if we knew if the celebrities were being paid or not to use a certain product. In a capitalist society like America, we thrive off of consumerism, and we are bombarded with thousands of ads and brands every single day. The thing is, when readers see a celebrity using a certain product (whether through celebrity product placement or not) it encourages the viewers to use it. It is proven  that viewers trust these actors and actresses. Shows like I Rembember Mama  from the 1950s used product placement for house hold appliances like ovens and knives. It works because we have grown to trust them through movies and television, so when we see them using a certain product, in our minds we translate that into thinking it is a trustworthy product; i.e. if it is good enough for Brad Pitt, I am sure it is good enough for me. This also relates to consumerism and products that are one of a kind like Coke. Andy Warhol turned Coke into a symbol by duplicating it’s image onto silk screen. Why it can be considered art is because in a way, Coke is universal. You drink coke, I drink coke, and The Queen of England and the President of the United States drink that same Coke. It is scary how consumerism has bled into every facet of entertainment and is now inescapable. I don’t know the real answer to this problem, but being aware that this is occurring is the first step.

 

kaycelyn Atkinson's picture

I don’t think it matters

I don’t think it matters if we knew if the celebrities were being paid or not to use a certain product. In a capitalist society like America, we thrive off of consumerism, and we are bombarded with thousands of ads and brands every single day. The thing is, when readers see a celebrity using a certain product (whether through celebrity product placement or not) it encourages the viewers to use it. It is proven  that viewers trust these actors and actresses. Shows like I Rembember Mama  from the 1950s used product placement for house hold appliances like ovens and knives. It works because we have grown to trust them through movies and television, so when we see them using a certain product, in our minds we translate that into thinking it is a trustworthy product; i.e. if it is good enough for Brad Pitt, I am sure it is good enough for me. This also relates to consumerism and products that are one of a kind like Coke. Andy Warhol turned Coke into a symbol by duplicating it’s image onto silk screen. Why it can be considered art is because in a way, Coke is universal. You drink coke, I drink coke, and The Queen of England and the President of the United States drink that same Coke. It is scary how consumerism has bled into every facet of entertainment and is now inescapable. I don’t know the real answer to this problem, but being aware that this is occurring is the first step.

 

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