Penny Stocks and Polo
Easily one of the longest movies I have ever watched, Wolf of Wall Street is jam packed with scumbag stockbrokers, scantily dressed women, and drugs. The movie tells the story of Jordan Belfort, played by Lionardo DiCaprio, who makes a living by scamming innocent Americans in the stock market. His weak morals leads to the augmentation of his greed. He no longer feels guilty about the lavish lifestyle he lives at the expense of others. Belfort enjoys buying expensive cars, clothes, and an abundance of drugs. For him and his posse, the products they have are about the luxury name brands. As a result, a select few brands receive a decent amount of screen time. Wolf of Wall Street inadvertently promotes several products that are associated with upper class lifestyles.
One of the most prominent product promotions in Wolf of Wall Street is the wide assortment of luxury cars. Before Jordan Belfort got rich there is a scene in which he has to take the bus to work. However post the opening of his firm, Mr. Belfort starts to drive around in car brands such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Mercedes. Several shots in the movie focus on the hood of the car as it rolls up to the camera or parked in front of a mansion. Front and center always is the car emblem. The cars are not cheap models you see the average American own. The logical argument expressed through the cars is that the brand is for the rich and elite. Conversely, it logically argues that the rich should buy these luxury brands. The collection of luxury cars promotes them to be staples within the upper class.
The film also promotes products through clothing and accessories. Brands like Ray Bans, Rolex, Chanel, Steve Madden, and Armani are all seen or talked about in the film. Belfort’s journey up the ranks of Wall Street is accompanied with a change in watch color. He starts with a silver watch and ultimately ends up wearing a gold Rolex. In fact, the movie stresses several times that a nice watch is a sign of success. As a result this creates an emotional response to gold watches. In Everything’s and Argument it notes, “ You may sometimes want to use emotions to connect with readers to assure them that they understand their experiences…” (Lunsford 44). People will feel success when they wear gold watches, particularly Rolex, just like Jordan Belfort. When someone feels like they can afford a nice gold watch then they will feel as though they have made it.
Products featured in the film go beyond the clothes and cars. Notable featured publications include Forbes Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. While these are not necessarily products catered to only the rich, they do get recognition for being leading industry products. These two media promotions give credibility to the events that happened in the movie and also to their own entity because they are so highly touted by the characters. Additionally, two other promotions caught my eye. The first is Benihana, a Japanese cuisine restaurant. The film claims the restaurant was the reason the FBI busted Jordan Belfort and his crew. According to Steve Aoki, the son of the founder of Benihana, he claims that the restaurant had nothing to do with the bust. However, he was very thrilled to see Benihana got a shout out and even their logo placed on the big screen (TMZ). The other promotion that stuck out to me was Straight Line Persuasion. In fact this is what the real Jordan Belfort does now to help pay the money he owes. Straight Line Persuasion is a seminar that Mr. Belfort puts on for groups about the art of selling; maybe something he was too good at. This shameless plug not only featured the real Jordan Belfort in the scene but it also added to an emotional appeal. The scene was a chance for Jordan Belfort to promote himself as good. He wants the audience to feel for him and feel like he trying to make a difference from his dirty past. The film promotes an interesting assortment of products that result in varying outcomes.
Wolf of Wall Street utilizes product promotion to logically advance the credibility of their scenes and hopefully evoke some emotions from the audience. The products are no placed for the main intent of these increasing sale. Rather to play off their existing stereotypes and images. One down side to the products in the film is that they are associated with a criminal. The featured companies are most likely to be okay with the use of their brands as free advertising. However, I personally think that the best promotion is positive publicity. After watching the film I did not want to immediately buy a pair of Ray Bans or eat at Benihana. The success did come in that the brands were reiterated in my head. Overall I give the film4/5 pickles for promotion of third party products.