Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle star in Mike Binder’s 2006 drama-comedy, Reign Over Me. Set in New York City a couple of years after the 9/11 attacks, Charlie (Sandler) has lost his family and life in the horrible terrorist attacks, when his college roommate, Dr. Johnson (Cheadle), randomly finds him and they continue their friendship and help each other along in ways they will never know. Since the loss of his loved ones, Charlie has lost all will to live and his social standing and etiquette and communication from his battle with depression and struggle with post traumatic stress disorder. As they fight these battles with each other and work through these problems with one another, some wonderful product placement takes place in this indie flick.
In our text, Everything’s an Argument, it states that “placement and advertising for famous products and brands is an extremely strong argument in itself.” In the first ten minutes of the film there is an immediate sense of advertising in this “low-key” film, which surprised me. During the intro, as Adam Sandler’s character is driving on what appears to be a Vespa motor scooter down a strip in rural New York City, one can clearly see an ACE Hardware sign and the neon lit sign and emblem of McDonald’s. This connects with everyone that lives in the U.S.A. Logically and emotionally, poor people and rich people can make connections with both of these franchises for different reasons. In the next scene, it shows Don Cheadles character, who is a well-off practicing dentist, driving a Volvo hatchback. The cinematography chooses to specifically show a frame with the actual Volvo emblem on the front. As Charlie and Dr. Johnson become closer friends again, Charlie invites Johnson to his place. As you walk by his music room, one can distinctly see a pair of Gibson guitars and a Ludwig drum set. Charlie finds his escape from his mental illness in music and drowns himself in it. If an audience member sees that an avid music lover like Charlie is playing Gibson and Ludwig instruments, they might check out the products and buy them. Because he is such a music fan, Charlie also has a gigantic vinyl album collection. Several music choices that he chooses to mention and bring up are The Pretenders, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seeger, and Earth, Wind, and Fire. Even the sound designer would choose a clip from those certain albums to use as background music to support the scene and the advertising of these bands and their records. The title “Reign Over Me” is actually pulled from the song, “Love, Reign O’er Me” by The Who, and Charlie uses this song to escape from his reality and the problems that he faces. Logically, using well known classic artists like these is genius. It will connect with the older generation who lived through that time period, and spark an interest in the young generation that might not know about cultured, pivotal music such as those mentioned, and maybe they will look them up or buy their old albums. In the next scene that takes place at a bar, you clearly see Dr. Johnson order a Heineken at the bar, which is a very smart marketing ploy to have the actual product used in the context of the scene.
There are two products that are mentioned quite heavily: Captain America and Barq’s root beer. These are two of Charlie’s absolute favorite things. He drinks root beer almost everywhere he goes, and loves reading and showing the comics of Captain America to Dr. Johnson. While random, I think both of these products are very likeable and underrated products that sometimes lack advertisement. The biggest advertisement in the film was the Playstation 2 game, Shadow of the Colossus. This game played a very big and pivotal part in this story. You spent minutes of this film watching them play through levels of this mythical game, and it gave off a vibe in the film that this game meant a lot to these two men. There were some odd connections made between the game and the story. It was a literal escape for Charlie. He could just enter into this world, and I think the company marketed it off of that aspect, and it was great for their publicity, especially because the game had just came out a year earlier.
Indie flicks can indeed have good, if not great, marketing and product placement in places and scenes that one wouldn’t normally think to go searching for it at. “Reign Over Me” certainly accomplishes that. The director, David Binder, made it so natural that you sometimes have to really concentrate and look for products to notice them at all. That is why American consumers will buy these products!