Thelma Todd, Cynthia Miller, Groucho Marx discussed on BBC World Service


Thirty two. Game. You can hear Thelma Todd falling into a river. And when she asks for help. The camera's zooms in on Groucho Marx as he slowly unwraps the package of lifesavers mints before throwing her Horon. It's been almost ninety years since Thelma fell out of that boat. But product placement isn't necessarily any more subtle today. Depending on where you are in the world. Let's start in Hollywood. I think it's really hard to find Hollywood feature films that don't have food product placement in them somewhere. This is Cynthia Miller, a cultural anthropologist, he specializes in film and television studies at Emerson college in Boston in the US. She says we all sub consciously make a loss of judgments about people's social status based on the food. They eat which means food. Brands are perfect for both telling a story and product placement when we see food in a film, and it looks sexy or it looks exciting or affluent, it's very attractive on a subconscious level. We don't necessarily say all well, I've got to go out and get me, some chocolate covered, strawberries. But there's that sub-conscious message that says. Yeah. People who have lives that I would aspire to or that I hold in. High regard. That's wouldn't they it becomes part of that overall picture of class aspirations kind of while I wanna be that sort of person if you look back at a lot of nineteen sixties family television programming. You see a lot of product placement of particular brands of bread or cereals, and they're all really associated with a particular kind of lifestyle values as well as sort of in the bigger picture, national identity. You know, this a here's the good middle-class American family that has these kinds of products is this something that the companies are deliberately trying to manipulate does art imitate life. Or is it the other way round? I think it's a little bit of both. When we look at kitchens in film, a middle-class families kitchen is going to be full of what we think of as. Middle-class food. There's the peanut butter and the leftover pizza in the fridge. Doughnuts on the table things like that. But there's also gonna be typically one or two things that look a little bit more class elevated because everybody kinda kinda attempts to move up a little from their own economic circumstances. Now when I notice very deliberately positioned fade brands in a film, I find it hard to maintain any suspension of disbelief. Bump Cynthia thinks product placement adds to fantasy. She says for those of us living in consumer cultures brands assigned much part of our lives that seeing them on screen makes us connect more deeply with the characters and even if audiences are increasingly aware of product placement it's still effective being self aware makes us feel very smart. And whenever we feel smart advertising tends to work. We see product placement we go, I know what you're doing there, and we very self congratulatory. Pat ourselves on the back, and we've cemented that product in our minds and the next time we're in the stores, we are buying that. In fact, I think our contemporary media awareness has actually made it easier to be more obvious because it's like this inside joke that everybody knows. It's yet. We're putting this right under your nose again here. It is what do you do if you don't like the sound of all this? You don't want to be sucked in by it. You've just said if we are really smart about it. Or we end up doing is reinforcing that brand even more in our brains. So is there anything we can do if we don't want to product placement to work on us. Wow..

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