Media Money with Julia Boorstin

Movies And Product Placement: A Thumbs Up Or Down?

Iron Man Audi

I'm a movie junkie and I'm so happy the summer movie season is underway. You'll probably find me at a theater every weekend between now and the end of July--when the movie premiers finally slow down.

And when it comes to summer blockbusters, there's always one sneaky player no one talks about much: the products that are placed, often for high prices, in key scenes and in close proximity to stars.

Good product placement leaves you wondering if a company paid to get its name in lights, or if it was simply the filmmaker's choice. Bad product placement is obvious and annoying, makes you dislike both the movie and the product.

And then there's the whole range in-between, where most product placement falls. Take Marvel /Paramount's "Iron Man." The lead character says he's dying for a burger, and then there are a couple choice shots of a Burger King bag. If he'd said "I'm dying for Burger King" it would have been entirely unbelievable. The way the scene ran, it was clear, but not painful.

And you can tell Audi supplied the set with plenty of its cars. One scene plays like an ad for Audi antilock breaks. (I do think it's a little weird when it appears that 80 percent of the cars on the road in a movie are the same brand).

Last year "Transformers" had heavy General Motors product placement, its range of cars were effectively the stars of the film, turning into robots. That raised the question: Does product placement raise awareness of a product? or make you want to buy it?

I'm keeping an eye on product placement this summer, and its effectiveness. ("Sex & the City: The Movie" will be a phenomenal example, since the TV show has already been so phenomenally successful building brands).

The bigger budget a movie, the more product placement it's likely have to help absorb some of those costs.

Please e-mail me your favorite--or least favorite--examples of product placement this summer.

Questions?  Comments?