"White Castle Commercial" (Warning: Mature Language):
Product Placement and Advertisement Review:
Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle is one of the finest movies in comedy. It stays true to all aspects of a good comedy. There are the two best friends, one full of common sense, the other, not so much, there is an innocent love interest, there are wacky adventures, and, most importantly, there a subtle morals that go into the importance of growing up, but still being you. This movie, while very much in the vein of American Pie, also stays true to factors that are in almost every movie ever made: product placement.
It is not very hard to figure out who the largest buyer in this movie is: White Castle. The entire movie is about the two anti-heroes doing absolutely anything they can to make it to White Castle for some midnight munchies. In the scene above, we are see our lovable duo discussing where they want to see. They are interrupted, coincidentally, by a commercial for White Castle. The commercial shows White Castle in a very desirable, and some could even say, sexy way. It is then that our brothers-in-weed know exactly where they want to go. This commercial obviously had obviously worked. Product placement, however, is a very controversial topic. In this case, within the film, the commercial worked. But what happens when the fourth wall is broken down? Do the audience member watching Harold and Kumar searching throughout their state for a White Castle feel the need to go eat at a White Castle? The answer is, get ready, maybe. For some, after seeing this movie, they immediately needed to eat at a White Castle. For others, they felt no need.
According to Martin J. Smith of the Orange County Register, product placement in movies do not usually work on an audience. In an article, Smith says, "The impact of product placements on film revenues is unclear. Most placement executives say they are negligible, adding that the agencies brokering the deals make most of the money". In the case of Harold & Kumar, I believe there has been a larger effect. When I see this movie, I do, in fact, want to get some late-night food. I will call one of my friends and find a place to eat. The movie starves me, though, not just for hunger, but for adventure.
The movie does a fantastic job at appealing to the emotion of viewers, so much so that it actually causes people like me to actually become hungry. What it misses though, is the attraction to and credibility of White Castle. I come from Louisiana, and we do not have White Castle. Instead, when I see this film, I often go to places like Taco Bell or maybe a late-night diner. I sadly cannot indulge in the "Slider Special" because it does not exist in my neck of the woods. I am left starving for something I cannot have, unless I travel cross-country (Then maybe I truly could have a Harold & Kumar adventure!).
The placement does have a logical tone, though. It is clear to the viewers what is happening. Two men are hungry, and thus they leave to eat. It cannot be any more simple than that. However, White Castle is able to put their twist on this. It is now that two men are hungry, so they leave to eat at White Castle. Genius. However, as much as I love Harold & Kumar, and as much as I love eating out late with a good friend, I have to give this product placement two director's cut. The reasoning boils down to a very simple one. They did absolutely everything right with their advertising, except for location. I, and many others, do not have access to a White Castle. If this movie were shortened as a television commercial for White Castle, it would be perfect because commercials for television are localized. Movies, however, go everywhere in the world. People from different countries can watch this movie, but have no idea what White Castle is. Some may even think White Castle is a parody of fast food, when, in reality, it is a real chain. If White Castle were everywhere on the planet, this would easily gain three director's cuts, but sadly it will be receiving two. But in the words of Harold, "[that's] not low".