Product placement in movies has been a resourceful tool for advertisers throughout the years. Even though companies get various benefits from having their products advertised in movies, it is a two-way street. Placing recognizable products in movies helps films acquire credibility and authority from their audience. Kirk Jones, director of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, managed to utilize pathos, ethos and logos by incorporating effective product placement throughout the film.
In What to Expect When You’re Expecting’s opening scene, two main characters are shown competing in a celebrity dance TV show. The actors who play the judges for the celebrity dance TV show were: Cheryl Cole from The X Factor, and Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas. Aside from advertising The X Factor and the Black Eyed Peas, choosing these actors for these specific roles is an evident use of ethos, pathos, and logos. Pathos can be portrayed by the advertisement of the Black Eyed Peas and The X Factor because their fans will feel excited to see them in the film. The depiction of ethos is obvious because of the credibility and authority that these famous actors bring to the audience. “Casting a movie is almost an art in itself. It requires an acute sensitivity to a player’s type, a convention inherited from the live theater.” (Gianetti, 279) The audience will be able to associate the actors to the roles that they are given in this film, based on their jobs in real life, making the scene more believable to them. Furthermore, famous singers are commonly hired as judges on dance shows, which makes it obvious to the audience that the TV show shown in this scene is a dance competition, therefore conveying the use of logos.
Multiple brands are advertised throughout the scenes of this film. One of the main characters is a retired racecar driver who is married to a beautiful woman who is about 20 years younger than he is. He is portrayed as the “cool” wealthy guy in the film, and he is introduced wearing a Lacoste polo. This advertises Lacoste as an expensive brand that is used by rich people, making it look prestigious to the audience. The use of this product placement gives credibility to the character, showing the use of ethos. If wealthy characters were shown using unknown brands, their authority would be questioned. Logos is also expressed by the product placement in this scene because when we see characters in films wearing expensive brands, it is obvious to us that they are wealthy.
The Digital Universe’s Zhanna Moldagulova wrote; “It is easier to identify with a story or with movie characters when they use products familiar to everyday life. It is also another venue for advertisers to show their product without being obtrusive.” Jennifer Lopez plays the role of a photographer in this film. She is shown at work using a Canon camera. Canon’s camera was advertised effectively in this scene because it was portrayed as a professional camera that took great photos, and allowed the character to make a living off of it. It is important for companies to advertise their products within films by showing who uses them, and how they are used. The product not only gives credibility to the profession of the character, but also to itself.
When advertising, it is important to target the right age group that the product is meant to be for. The younger characters in the film advertise various magazines in several scenes. Star and People magazines are shown in multiple scenes at the homes of these young characters, showing that they are “cool” amongst that age group. This makes the audience of this age group relate to the characters if they also read these magazines, as well as make the ones that don’t want to buy them.
I had never stopped to think how many products are advertised in films, but now that I have done so, I have realized that as a consumer, I am heavily influenced by the product placement in films. I remember when I first saw this film, I was about to take a photography course, and even though I did not buy the same model as the one shown in the film, I did buy one from the same brand. This film does a good job advertising actors, TV shows and products, although it does get overwhelming at times since it is done in almost every scene. I give the product placement in this film 4 slurpies.