Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Shop, Shop 'til we Drop

Movie screen sponsorships are often paid by corporations and other business entities to advertise the type business they own, product they produce, or service provided while audiences are captive in theaters watching movies. This type of movie theatre screen sponsoring exposes the movie screen sponsor to a very large demographic that the company may benefit from as it is seen in such a large format that the individual moviegoers will most likely remember the product or service they see. This is a type of product placement, and is used to advertise and hopefully increase sales. According to Sut Jhally in “Image-Based Culture”, “Advertising doesn't always mirror how people are acting but how they're dreaming. In a sense what we're doing is wrapping up your emotions and selling them back to you” (p. 3). Sponsorship is also used in movies to increase an understanding of the characters, and give the audience a personal connection to the movie and a reason to care about or emulate its characters. Lots of advertisement is used in Confessions of a Shopaholic, a 2009 American romantic comedy film based on the Shopaholic series of novels by Sophie Kinsella. Directed by P.J. Hogan, the film stars Isla Fisher as the ditzy fashion junkie journalist, Rebecca, and Hugh Dancy, as her boss, Luke.  This film is about a women, Rebecca, searching for happiness in all the high end stories on the shopping avenues: Prada, Gucci, Barney’s, Henri Bendel, Saks, Zac Posen, among other retailers in Manhattan. This shopping addiction eventually catches up with her and puts her in huge debt. Ironically, she lands a job as an advice columnist for a financial magazine, Successful Savings. The movie shapes an argument for the use of these products with a clear message that the purchase and ownership of these products is that creates happiness. The sponsorship is playing into our dreams
The majority of the trailer centers on the main character, Rebecca. The trailer opening shows Rebecca as a little girl first experiencing beautiful clothes and stores. She watches in amazement as the women pulls out a credit card and hands it to the cashier. Many people have credit cards, so it shows viewers that they can purchase clothing with their card (logos). To a child this is an easy and fascinating exchange of a plastic card for treasures. The trailer then shows Rebecca as a young women walking down the street with a Gucci purse, Tod Oldham Vintage Belt, and a Zac Posen dress. She is obviously extremely happy, optimistic, cheery, and bouncy. Many viewers will recognize these big designer names (logos). In addition, the audience is drawn to this display of wealth and consumption, and assumes that if they have those items, they will be happy too (pathos). Rebecca views purchasing and having these products close to her as almost magical, and because of our desire to associate with her, so do we (pathos). The audience sees all these products purchased and used by beautiful people, and viewers are curious about what it would be like to own all those products  without giving much thought as to how it might impact their lives (pathos). Even men can be drawn into this magical fashion world when Luke walks into a clothing shore and asks for black shoes designed by Prada. This scene makes the audience believe that everyone can have these extravagant pieces of clothing (logos). The audience secretly wants to be like the actors and actresses with all the fancy clothes and handbags (pathos). The movie tries to make the characters relatable to the viewer rather than out of touch with common people. In order to show that Rebecca is an average human being just like the anyone else, she is shown opening up her freezer to grab her credit card, where there are a couple of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream containers (logos). This makes viewers feel more of a connection with her as a character (pathos). The article, Advertising, by Martin J. Smith, The Orange County Register, states that “brand-name products and logos realistically reflect the landscape of everyday American life” (p. 2).
Another scene that shows a lot of different advertisements is when Luke is giving Rebecca back her draft for her first article on APR’s (annual percentage rate). Rebecca is then seen typing on her Apple computer. This was a time when Apple products were becoming more popular but still were viewed as fun for the lucky ones, so it would attract viewer’s attention and also give both Apple and the film credibility (ethos). Viewer’s would recognize the Apple logo, and believe that any person could use an Apple computer (logos). Viewers may even want to go purchase one for work too (pathos). Rebecca types up something about angles on APRs on Google. Google is a search engine that almost everyone knows about and has probably used. This draws people in and makes them feel connected to the character and her actions(pathos).
Confessions of a Shopaholic is a fun movie to watch and displays lots of advertisements. I would give this film two clipboards for its sponsorships. The sponsorships appeal to everyone. They may make people want to be able to have all the high-fashion clothes, but it may also cause people to laugh at how foolish she is for spending so much money. These sponsorships would either appeal to people in a positive or negative way.

The use of sponsorship in this movie is extreme at times. It is almost comical, and in some instances is used to make us laugh at the character and ourselves when we behave that way. It is used to show extreme excessiveness and conspicuous consumption. This display is in stark contrast to the way the everyday person lives. Most people have budgets, and are careful with purchases so as not to go into debt. However, we are envious of the carefree nature of the spending, and wish we could be like that too. By the end of the movie, the viewer cannot help but identify with Rebecca’s troubles and be glad for her joys. Rebecca is flawed but lovable too, and is much like the viewers. The movie is thought-provoking, an the audience wonders whether having all those things will bring us happiness too, even though, deep down, we know that it will not. Much of our ability to relate to this light-hearted frivolous film is due to the use of sponsorships.

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