Just What Are You Proposing?
When discussing advertising, most people imagine the typical 30-second commercial that interrupts their favorite show or the mascara add in their copy of Cosmo. However, advertising also exists in the more covert realm of product placement. These discrete commercials are built into the very fabric of movies. Most likely, you won’t notice you’re watching an ad unless you’re looking for it. Product placement can range from the name on a soda can to the promotion of an automobile maker. The ethical implications of this method are highly debated in the film industry. Some argue that the profit which filmmakers receive by adding product placement to a movie compromises the artistic integrity of a film. Others counteract that “brand-name products and logos realistically reflect the landscape of everyday American life. A generic can labeled ‘BEER’ is more jarring to a viewer than a recognizable label” (Smith, Advertising). The Proposal includes several cases of product placement. Despite arguments against this method, the convert commercials add elements of ethos, pathos, and logos to the film.
When in his home state of Alaska, Andrew sports a Patagonia jacket, which the movie highlights in several scenes. The camera lingers on the brand name enough to make it an obvious product placement. However, the jacket ads ethos to the movie. Since Patagonia is well known as a quality brand of outdoor clothing, it ads to the ethos of Andrew’s character. In addition, the jacket adds an element of logos because it makes sense to wear Patagonia, a brand created for outdoor conditions, in a terrain such as Alaska. The jacket ads pathos by supporting the outdoorsy image of Andrew’s Alaskan lifestyle.
The Proposal also contains product placement by Apple. In every scene involving computers, an iMac makes an appearance. Since Apple is thought of as a quality electronics brand, it’s presence in the movie ads ethos. Margaret plays the role of a successful business woman, so it makes sense for her to use Apple products, adding an element of logos. In addition, the presence of Apple products affects how we feel about the characters. Apple is seen as a brand stereotypically used by intellectual individuals. This gives the product placement an element of pathos.
Slightly more ambiguous than the other ads, The Proposal promotes “Get Low” by Lil’ Wayne with Margaret’s fireside dancing scene. The song’s presence ads ethos to the movie because it is a popular song that the audience most likely knows and enjoys. Since most viewers find this song agreeable, it creates a positive mood in the movie and adds to the film’s pathos. However, the placement of this song in the movie really doesn’t contain any logos. In fact, the absence of logos in this scene is what creates the sense of comedy.
According to the article “Advertising” by Martin J. Smith that we read for class, “product placements range in cost between $10,000 and $80,000.” This fact causes skepticism about the artistic purity of movies that include product placements. However, with analysis we find that the ads in The Proposal for the most part actually increase the elements of ethos, pathos, and logos in the film. Since the product placements positively influence the film, I give it a four out of five pickles.