According to a report in The Australian, $45 million is going to be raised for product and brand placement in the latest installment of the James Bond series. This figure will mean the new film, yet untitled other than by its codename “Bond23,” will command the highest price for product placement in cinema history. Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report comes in at number 2; that film received about $20 million from Lexus, Bulgari and American Express to feature their products and brands.
None of this is particularly novel, and mainstream cinema has featured strategically placed products and brands for a while now. But the $45 million is causing fans to worry that product placement concerns will harm the quality of the movie. This point is articulated in Morgan Spurlock’s (director of Super Size Me) new documentary The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.
Product placement undoubtedly has the potential to detract from the quality of a film, but that it’s reached these levels comes as no surprise. Mainstream cinema by it’s very nature creates and reinforces an image of our lives and our relationships with each other. With few exceptions, it has always depicted us as being capitalist consumers, and even a Hollywood flick made 60 years ago implicitly sells a product – the difference is that in 1951 that product was a lifestyle or a way of life that Hollywood purported to be normative, and this lifestyle naturally included being a consumer. In 2011, the only real difference is that now, with the increasing omnipresence of advertising, we’re shown specifically what to consume.