Suggestive power

Television viewers or movie watchers do not realize that subtly they are being bombarded by covert advertising, so-called product placement. That is not a new phenomenon, but even so it is of growing concern.
One notices on old movies on television the constant cigarette smoking by all the actors. They appear so sophisticated that many people are tempted to copy them.
Movie producers and television broadcasters insert products into programs in exchange for money. The audience generally is unaware of those product placements. In Europe, steps are being taken to limit them, but in North America there are no regulations to curb their usage.
Extra advertising revenue from products placements has helped the television industry now, when commercial-skipping technologies enable viewers to bypass ads on television. Apparently too, there is more to this than the cash offered. Companies nowadays provide props such as cars to blow up or trained animals that perform on command.
Tricks abound. According to an article in The Economist there currently are "colour-coding" sets and actors’ outfits in the hues of company logos, and tweaking dialogue to include words, phrases, and themes that evoke well-known advertising campaigns."
Advertising seems to be everywhere; on tops of taxis, on gasoline pump handles at gasoline stations, and on the sides and backs of buses and street cars.
Stealth placements with logos like that of CN Rail or the CBC emblem are commonplace these days, adding to the proliferation of commercial promotions.
Product placement on movies is not limited by any regulations, but even more effective is product placement on television. The suggestive power of someone drinking beer or appearing in swimwear very well may prompt viewer imitation.
Weaving story lines around car chases, or attending a party dressed in the latest fashion lend themselves also to the use of product placement.
Consumer groups have started to try to do something about all this. So far they have managed to keep such product placements off children’s shows. Too, news broadcasts are relatively free of this because some believe that it would be inappropriate there.
It is possible, but far from certain, that our government soon may start to limit product placement, but that is difficult. It means examining the smallest details of what appears on screens. Nevertheless, as the public becomes more aware of excessive product placements, voluntary curbs may ensue.

Bruce Whitestone