It could be said that Ray-Ban and Tom Cruise were a match-mate in heaven in the 1980’s. In fact, many would argue that Risky Business and Tom Cruise directly attribute to the “comeback” of the now ever-popular Ray-Ban wayfarer. I for one agree with argument. The product placement of the Ray-Ban wayfarers in Risky Business was both successful for Ray-Ban as a company as well as for the image of the movie.
If I were a teenage boy growing up in 1983 I most likely would have contributed to Ray-Ban sales after seeing how fabulous Tom Cruise looked in the wayfarer style sunglasses. The fashion accessory compliments the “cool factor” that Tom Cruise’s character is clearly meant to portray considering the events that take place throughout the film. Tom Cruise plays a character that many young boys his age would “fantasize” to be like due to the fact that he defies his parents and instead engages in “risky business”. Since Tom Cruise plays an attractive character who is having sex and breaking the rules (which tends to be at the top of several 19-yearl-old boy’s to-do lists) it is logical to assume that what his character is wearing is what is considered cool and sexy. By placing the wayfarers on Tom Cruise, the movie is making an appeal to ethos because it is crediting the fact that they are something that a cool, young, and sexy person would wear. According to Lunsford in Everything’s an Argument, “ethos creates quick and sometimes almost irresistible connections between audience and arguments” (Lunsford 44-45). Viewers who are watching this movie may associate Tom Cruise and his character as someone they want to be more like, so if they were to get his glasses they would also be seen as cool and sexy. When Tom Cruises character wears the sunglasses inside, it is obvious that the movie wants you to notice the glasses because their main function is to protect your eyes from the sun which would clearly mean they are actually meant for outside. However, the fact that Tom Cruise is wearing the sunglasses inside shows that they are making a statement and attempting to creating a fashion buzz by focusing the audiences attention on the sunglasses. Tom Cruise is even wearing the Ray-Ban’s on the movie poster, which can further strengthen the argument that the sunglasses are a statement piece to Tom Cruises character’s style.
When looking at sales numbers for Ray-Ban after the 1983 comedy, it is more than obvious that the product placement was successful for the company and the actual product itself. Before the early 80’s, Ray-Ban sales were declining and the wayfarer style was nearing its extinction after going though a long slump in the 1970’s. According to a CNBC.com article titled “10 Big Successes in Product Placement”, Tom Cruises character wearing the Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses helped them become so popular that it resulted in 360,000 pairs being sold that year. The placement literally pulled the product back from the brink after they were almost discounted entirely. This was a result of the company hiring Unique, a Burbank product placement firm who got the sunglasses into 60 different films and TV shows in the next five years, Risky Business included (CNBC). The fact that this movie was such a success helped the Ray-Ban Wayfarers revamp their image and it was clearly a strategic business move that can prove the power that product placement can have on its audience. By making a deal for their product to be placed on Tom Cruise, they were clearly marketing to the young male demographic. The fact that this movie basically launched Tom Cruises career only further made this product placement more successful.