Advertising is everywhere- on TV, on billboards, in magazines. It seems like we can’t turn our attention to anything without someone trying to sell us something. Even movies aren’t safe from these shameless moments of advertising. How many times have you been watching a movie when all of a sudden you get a close up of a brand name or a company’s logo? These placements really do nothing to advance the plot or the meaning of the movie- their sole purpose is to convince us to go and buy this product. To fully understand product placement in the movies I will examine the examples of product placement in the movie Tron: Legacy.
The first really obvious use of product placement was when they showed Sam (the main character) riding his Ducati motorcycle really fast around town. While the actual scenes really don’t do anything to advance the meaning of the film, it sure does look cool to watch someone ride recklessly around town on their cool motorcycle. Now combine that idea with the fact that the motorcycle that he is actually driving is Ducati, and now everyone wants to go out a buy a Ducati. The product placement is also enhanced simply by the plot of the movie in that once Sam goes into the game, he drives all kinds of different light motorcycles, and the reason why he is so good is that he does drive this super cool Ducati motorcycle. Thus, Ducati is gaining ethos in that this main character drives their motorcycles and then goes into this game and has incredible motorcycle driving skills. In the book Everything’s an Argument, Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz argue about the importance of establishing credibility. In essence they say that you can make whatever argument you want, but if you don’t have the ethos to back it up, then you argument pretty much will fall on deaf ears. Thus, when Ducati shows itself in the film, it is obvious that they are getting their name out there, but when they show that Sam is an experienced motorcycle driver they gain ethos in that this guy, who obviously knows a lot about motorcycles, chose this Ducati. In essence they are saying that serious motorcycle drivers all drive Ducati motorcycles.
While Ducati is the main product that is showed in this movie, it certainly is not the only product that is advertised. However, most of the other products are shown more or less in passing. A good example is the Nokia phone that Sam uses to open up the “big door” in his father’s old shop. The phone is really insignificant in that he really only uses it for all of two seconds in this one scene, but we are still shown an extreme close up of the phone so we can see the brand name very clearly. This is a good example of what product placement has come to these days, which was described in the article, Advertising: Brand Name Props in the Movies , where product placement deals are “increasingly… straight cash-for-exposure transactions”. So, in essence, Nokia probably paid the producers to put their phone in the movie.
All in all, the movie did have some glaring product placement but in general it was fairly subtle. For me, that is the best type of product placement. I would rather have to decide to see a brand than have it forced into my face. So, I would rate this movie fairly high in the area of product placement.