August 6th, 2013

Has product placement gotten out of control?

By Steven McNeice

Some of this year’s blockbusters have almost recouped their budgets through ‘marketing support’ alone

The Smurfs 2 has opened to predictability bad reviews and an unpredictably disappointing US box office (just over half of its predecessor’s first weekend gross). While a healthier worldwide total of €53 million or so should ensure the film is a financial success in the long run, even with an ‘underperforming’ box office Sony won’t be too worried: companies have already spent €112 million (almost 133% the film’s actual reported budget) on licensing deals related to the film’s release.

While a large amount of the money has come from deals like fast food and toy tie-ins, numerous products - including no shortage of Sony goods - appear in the film itself, as was the case in the first film as well. Most noteworthy perhaps is that the film is aimed at children, making its rampant marketing that little more ethically dubious.
The Smurfs are hardly alone, though: Man of Steel also made somewhere in the region of €120 million before hitting screens, through both in-film placements and other merchandising deals from companies ranging from Gillette to Nokia. Star Trek: Into Darkness also enjoyed a healthy monetary boost from various ‘promotional partners’.

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