Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sweet Home Alabama

Alexis Dromgoole

Sweet Home Alabama

            The film Sweet Home Alabama has an interesting take on love, romance, proposals, and marriage because the film combines “over-the-top gestures of love”, with the “simple and romantic”.  This is the balance that the main character Melanie Smooter (Reese Witherspoon) struggles with as she decides which man to choose, and which path in life to follow.  

  Every movie-goer knows that a movie is more than just its plot, but it is also about all of the finite details that are added to a film to make it a complete entity.  In this film, the movie partnered with the particularly well-known brand of Tiffany & Co. to enhance both the film and the company’s emotional appeal (pathos).  At the outset of the movie, when Melanie goes to meet her boyfriend Andrew Hennings (Patrick Dempsey), she finds herself in a dark back room of a warehouse with him.  Suddenly the lights are switched on and she realizes she is in the iconic store of Tiffany & Co.  The camera scans around the room to show the location, and holds for a moment over the signature stack of “little blue boxes” with white ribbon tied in a perfect bow around them.  This effect is evidenced in the article by Martin J. Smith in the Orange County Register, that “…the product appears like a full moon, the label always facing the camera.  They hover there in an almost beautiful way [and]…they’re associated whenever possible with sympathetic characters… (Smith par. 15).  This emphasizes the idea that the camera shot featuring a highly recognizable product with the main character adds to both the emotions (pathos) of the romantic proposal to our main character, and the association between the theme of the film and the main concept of the brand: love.  It is evident that a product by any other brand name would not smell as sweet.

Tiffany & Co. is nothing if not an expert at selling love in an extraordinary fashion. Additionally, the brand promotes the idea of everlasting love with the purchase of “Tiffany” jewelry.  One of the main goals of using Tiffany & Co. as the jeweler in the film is to motivate women to want to get a ring from Tiffany’s and encourage them to tell their boyfriends that when they get engaged/married, they want a Tiffany ring in a “little blue box”.  An idea that is clearly expressed in this film that is described in Anna Lunsford’s Everything’s an Argument is, “When writers and speakers find the …images that evoke certain emotions in people, they might also move their audiences to…act on them [their emotions]” (41).  This concept further sheds light on the secondary task of product placement after enhancement of the film, which is to motivate movie goers to want to have a featured product in their lives because they saw how it positively affected the characters in the movie.

Tiffany’s is the premier wedding jeweler. With its iconic image and signature colors, nothing can top the Tiffany’s brand.  The film Breakfast at Tiffany’s promotes the idea that Tiffany’s provides a sense of status and wealth, which is done in this film as well.  This also adds to the credibility (ethos) of the film because if Tiffany’s was good enough for revered actress and icon Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and now fashion designer Melanie (and loved actress Reese Witherspoon) then it is good enough for women being proposed to today.  This is a fundamental idea that is clearly understood because, “If a company…is well known, liked and respected, that reputation will contribute to its persuasive power” (Lunsford 56).  The importance of product placement lies not only in how the brand is incorporated into the film, but also how classic and timeless the brand is.  If a company can transcend the ages and still be relevant, then the brand will carry its own respectability (ethos).  In addition, the respectability of the company will encourage buyers that both the movie and product are worth indulging in because of the strength in the relationship of the “two phenomena (brand and the movie) being compared” (Lunsford 351).  This film product placement does exactly that by keeping with the traditional Tiffany ideal of the extravagant and classic with the new and exciting feelings of love that come from a proposal. 


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