Thursday, February 27, 2014

Step Brothers Product Placement

Step Brothers is a slapstick comedy directed by Adam McKay that features a vast amount of product placement.  Product placement is used in film to help advertise products, and make the producer of the film profitable.  Step Brothers stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly.  Step Brothers is crawling with product placement.  The beginning scene opens with Will Ferrell’s character Brennan, making nachos with Doritos chips.  Although the viewer cannot see the brand on the bag it is implied because of the way the chips look.  Both actors are seen during the film wearing t-shirts advertising for various products.  While watching this movie, I took note of all the products strategically placed throughout the film.  Characters in the film are seen drinking Heineken beer, wearing Polo Ralph Lauren shirts, and driving Land Rovers.  At one point Will Ferrell even says, “I want to drive a Range Rover!”  Many products were presented in the film, but the two that showed up more frequently were Mountain Dew and Pepsi.  The characters in the movie are seen holding Pepsi cans and drinking Pepsi multiple times.  Mountain Dew is seen in the fridge and on the characters t-shirts.  Although these two brands were seen an equal amount of time throughout the movie, Mountain Dew did a more efficient job of getting their brand noticed.  Not only did Mountain Dew have their product in the film, but they also had a shirt with their logo spread across the front.  Even though Mountain Dew may have been shown more, Pepsi and Mountain Dew are part of PepsiCo, so the company still wins in the end.  In fact a lot of the products shown in Step Brothers were products of PepsiCo; Doritos, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and tropicana.  Andrew Giangola, a spokesman for Pepsico Inc., which probably does more film product placements than any other company: "With the average production cost of a movie now (more than) $ 26 million, anything that helps hold down ticket prices is valuable.” (Martin J. Smith 2).

In Step Brothers, the product placement or sponsorship includes arguments of ethos, pathos, and logos.  Product placement or sponsorship affects the viewer consciously and subconsciously with the products that are presented in the film.  The characters in this film are seen drinking Pepsi and having a good time.  This is an emotional appeal or an appeal to pathos.  This also looks good for Pepsi because it implies that if you drink Pepsi you will have a good time, this is an appeal to pathos as well.  Logically if the viewer wants to be like the characters in the film they will use the products seen in the film.  The companies want their products in films because if viewers see a product being endorsed in films, it makes them want to buy this product; this is an argument of logos.  Now consider the controversial film-industry practice called "product placement," in which a movie-goer who has paid $ 6 or more for a ticket often is given similar, if more subtle, pitches.  Look at that!  James Bond smokes Lark cigarettes!  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles eat Domino's pizza!  Spike Lee doesn't just make commercials for Nike.  He actually wears them in his movies!” (Martin J. Smith 1).  The producer most likely chose Pepsi and Mountain Dew to be used throughout the movie because they offered the most money, and they are widely known products.  By using products that are well known to the public, the audience relates to the film and its characters; this is an argument of credibility or ethos.

Product placement makes the film appear more life like.  Product placement is a great way to advertise and it does not require the company to create an ad campaign. The big defense that marketing people use is that it's more realistic to use real products rather than a generic package” (Martin J. Smith 2).  Product placement is very obvious in this film as opposed to some films that have a more subtle approach.  Step Brothers is from the producers who also created Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.  Like Step Brothers, Talladega Nights also featured a large amount of product placement.  The product placement of Step Brothers was very effective.  I think sponsors were able to show off their products with ample airtime.  I think that showing too many product brands at one time can be overwhelming and can distract from the film.  This is a comedy, so the product placement seemed to be intentional.  I would rate the product placement of the film Step Brothers four out of five slurpees, because it was repetitive at times in the film.

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