Posted by Tyler Hustwick 2 years, 3 months ago

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Summertime is here and with it comes the Hollywood blockbuster, known for big names, big budgets and…big brands?

This past weekend I embarked on my first summer trip to the movies, a ritual I’ve performed with my dad for as long as I can remember. Our film of choice was Jurassic World, the fourth installment of the Jurassic franchise. The film was nothing special, high priced visual effects and a simple, formulaic storyline. I left the theater with one glaring observation: I had just watched two hours of non-stop, in your face, product placement.

Brand integration into film is not a novel concept, notable occurrences include Marty McFly’s Nike MAG (Magnetic Anti-Gravity) shoes in Back to the Future: Part II, Agent 007’s signature Aston Martin in the James Bond franchise, Reese’s Pieces in E.T. and so on. Over time, occurrences of product placement have become the rule rather than the exception in not only film, but television as well. 

Despite its prevalence, Jurassic World takes brand integration to an entirely new level. The film’s main character wields a Triumph motorcycle as he chases raptors, Samsung boasts its presence on every smartphone and television, as well as the park’s “Samsung Innovation Center,” Beats by Dre headphones are rampant, characters gulp down Coca-Cola, and the main shopping center features a Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Pandora jewelry store, Ben & Jerry’s, an IMAX theater and a Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant.

Self-aware of its own flagrant use of product placement, the film mocks the corporate sponsorship dynamic as the dinosaur park strikes a deal to name its most recent attraction “Verizon Wireless Presents The Indomonius Rex”. This causes a supporting character to joke, they should of named it “Pepsi-saurus.” The most ostentatious sponsor of all is Mercedes-Benz, whose vehicles play a leading role in the film. “Jurassic World is an upscale theme park, so we wanted one of the most upscale auto manufacturers to be involved in it,” said film producer Pat Crowley. 

Considering Jurassic World cost $180 million to make, its opening weekend grossed over $208 million in box office sales alone, making it difficult to attribute its shameless use of product placement to anything more than corporate greed. Some may argue that brand integration provides an element of realism to film, which may be true to an extent. However, producers should be wary of using product placement to the point where a film, like Jurassic World, becomes more about story-selling than storytelling.

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