I love movies—and I’m pretty sure that if catching them didn’t
cost a cent you would find me sewn to the dusky, potty seats of the theatre
with a healthy stash of popcorn (if those didn’t cost a cent too) hunkered in
the adjacent chair, watching movie after movie after movie.  Now I believe there are many silver screen
suckers like myself out there, and they will agree the allure of the theatre is
largely derived from the captivating sensation of being enthralled by a mesmerizing
plotline or cast and the feeling of being taken on an adventure.  There is however, an issue which is fast
threatening to spoil the wholesome movie goodness and that is the pervasiveness
of embedded advertising.


The Singapore paper, The Straits Times (ST), carried an article
yesterday (17th September 2011) on the unchecked proliferation on product
placement by Chinese companies in films and other media products to not only
come out of China but from the west too.
Now while I am not against embedded advertising if it is using sparing with
much discretion, the growing popularity and audacity of these companies is a
worrying trend.


In the article, to illustrate the boldness of firms, writer
Grace Ng notes that shampoo brand Clear managed to squeeze its posters and products
into every episode of the 30-part Chinese drama series, a move that if
replicated here on local television would surely draw the ire of many
TV-watchers.  My concern however lies not
with the proliferation of embedded ads on Chinese serials but the trend spilling
over unto movies and other media content that we love.


What is quite clear is that product placement here does
work.  As reported in the same piece,
Clear’s market share rose 24 percent from a year ago when its share was reportedly
less than 10 percent.  A remarkable
increase which is sure to invite and encourage other companies to follow
suit.  Apparently the Chinese are not too
concern with this generally because it would seem that the local audience there
will seemingly let the matter slip by should the movie or show produce top
notch screenplay and acting; something which we or western society might not
agree with.


The matter has yet to explode on the movie scene but its
gaining momentum.  The recent Hollywood blockbuster,
Transformers: Dark side of the Moon, apparently carried a multitude of embedded
Chinese advertising, ranging from brands such as Lenovo to Metersbonwe apparel
and Yili’s Shuhua milk.  And while I have
caught the show and greatly disliked it, it was more of a plot problem rather
than an issue of too invasive advertising.


What I hope for is a line to be drawn somewhere, and
soon.  Other media platforms such as
computer games are also not immune to this form of advertising and regulation
is needed before all forms of media are gravely stricken by tasteless product
placement.  For where there is money to
be made, the whole world will be trying to make money from it.



  1. im nt too affected by it. bt for the sake of those who pay attention to such detailing i hope it doesnt find its way into movies that deal with more serious content. cos i imagine that could be annoying and distracting. and u dont want that being the topic discussed instead of the main message behind the movie.

    • Hello Yellow Sub (: yeah that would certainly be my concern. In a world where money talks, its hard to see how the state of things could degenerate to that. A line has to be drawn and i think the onus would be on the producers to see to it that the overall fell of the movie is not compromised.

  2. It really is fashionable now to fuse hidden messages/agenda/meanings into movies. The greatest movies that I really got me thinking were V for Vendetta, Inception, The Dark Knight, etc, these are what I can recall which are on my fingertips.

    • Yea i love those movies too but if product placement is going to become too pervasive and blatant it’s going to wreck the whole cinematic experience. Thank god there werent any goofed ads flying inbetween scenes of any of the movies you just mentioned! I would say, I could take a few, but for the love of the theatre, keep it subtle. Those would be the best kind imo.

  3. Show me the money! It’s all about the money. If there weren’t any money involved, I highly doubt that product placement will be so rampant. But at the same time, certain tasteful product placement can be quite enlightening. Have you seen the movie, Robin Hood: Men in Tights? They actually made product placement rather amusing in that movie. 🙂

    • Nope but i think I will! And yep i do agree with your point, however firms got to realise that there’s a threshold for which they cannot breach, beyond which they’re going to incur diminishing returns because people will be so turned off by the blantant product placement they’re going to pass on the movie/game/drama!

  4. there’s always a place for everything. why can’t people just keep movies strictly for… movies? and dramas for… dramas? why squeeze advertising into everything? it’s not like as if we aren’t bombarded with advertisements in other forms everyday (ie. posters, texts, emails, tv ads, newspaper ads etc). the world’s too concerned with $$$.

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