A Controversy Mindset
In the film industry, many producers and directors are given the opportunity to incorporate a variety of ads that sponsor unique and specific products pertaining to certain scenes within their movies. This is often called “Product Placement.” American film director, Todd Phillips, is known primarily for his 2009 comedy of the year, The Hangover, in which several products were used to help enhance the key elements of particular scenes. Viewers across the nation are contemplating their approval or disapproval of these product placements. Some viewers are saying these ads are a great asset in enhancing the rhetorical devices of ethos, pathos, and logos, while others are not so sure, leaving behind a sense of hesitation and uncertainty.
The positive effects of product placement can clearly promote both the film and the merchandise by increasing the number of viewers and maximizing sales resulting in higher profits. In the movie, The Hangover, one of the films most iconic scenes takes place on the rooftop of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Here, the so-called “Wolf-Pack” consisting of the main characters (Alan, Stu, Doug, and Phil), who are making a toast involving the alcoholic beverage Jägermeister that begins their epic journey of a night they will quite literally never remember. The particular placement of this product, in Las Vegas, on such a huge stage, conveys both a logical and credible message that upholds the Las Vegas slogan, “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas”. It has been said that, “It's more realistic to use real products rather than a generic one” (Smith, 1991). Incorporating a well-desired brand such as Jägermeister, instead of a knock off alcoholic brand, clearly and efficiently supports the prestigious resume that this alcoholic beverage represents, capturing the audiences imagination in a positive way. The product placement of Jägermeister sent my emotions running wild. Reminiscing about past experiences made me feel a sense of excitement, and connection with the characters that comes from sharing past experiences. As you can see, there are many benefits to product placement that viewers can relate to making the film a more interactive and realistic experience.
On the other hand, there is the controversy that product placement can negatively impact movies creating an obvious sense of advertisement that appears to be over exaggerated and obnoxious. One product that stuck out to me throughout the movie was the heavy emphasis on Alan’s Dad’s Vintage Mercedes Benz that appeared in a large majority of the scenes. Many references are made concerning the condition and high-end value of the car, but the over embellishment of how superior this car is to others, felt irrational. Mercedes Benz is one of the most well-known and idolized brands in the automobile industry, but the repeated portrayal of this particular car seemed to take away from the overall sense of the film. A man by the name of J. Martin Smith spoke out concerning this issue in his article Advertising Name Brand Props stating that, “Most placements really flatter the product. In most films, the product appears like the full moon, the label always facing the camera. That's not realistic; it's anti-realistic”. Mr. Smith’s opinion on product placement is one that appears to be plausible and should not go un-noticed. Also, many people tend to follow the majorities opinion rather than truly stating their own beliefs in fear of being rejected, so it’s refreshing to see an opposing view. Personally, as a viewer, I am inclined to look at films as a whole instead of noticing small attributes, such as product placement. Although, the more in-depth I analyze these products in The Hangover, the more I feel that making a product seem unrealistic can undermine a films credibility and logical appeal.
All in all, product placement, if implemented correctly, can improve the connection between the characters and the audience improving the viewers experience. Everyone in society is entitled to they’re own opinions, and I personally believe that The Hangover laid down a firm model for the film industry that accurately represents the positive attributes, as well as the negative connotations that product placement can have within a movie. Therefore, I rate this film a 4 out of 5 Slurpee’s and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves controversy and is willing to watch this movie with an open mind.