Advertising Design: High Octane Product Placement

So, if you're any type of advertising designer, every project by Pixar Studios has got to be on your radar. Which means the release of Cars s on your calendar. And the fathers of Nemo and Buzz are aiming at not only delighting the paying audience, but a gluttony of corporate sponsors.

Cars may turn out to be one of the greatest extended commercials ever. Not only are regular TV promos seamlessly integrating high quality animation and dialogue, but also advertisers are shelling out major cash to have product appearances in the flick. State Farm. AT & T. Goodyear. Just a few who have keen product placement or savvy logo flashes for this high-octane campaign.

While nothing new, the digital technology and subject matter of the movie have made sponsor tie-ins not only easy but also seamless. This is about auto racing, after all, a sport known for image placement. But on a closer level, a dialogue is stirring about what makes an art form (in this case, an animated motion picture) and what is sheer commercial name-dropping.

I have not yet seen Cars, but I can still recall mounds of movies that name-dropped like a Hollywood party. A Peps swig here, a Cheetos grab there. Even a faulty FedEx plane crash gets the name out there, albeit in a conflicted manner. But Cars has taken the crossover, taking Happy Meals out of consumer hands and serving up the fair as visual candy instead.

Arguably many would rather not have an obvious shill distract us from the pace of the movie. But products surround us in daily life, too. The screen only gives back what we consume here in a real existence. But this isn't your mom's animated flick; Snow White didn't have Coke (that we know of), but Cars has Hertz. Still, modern viewers presumably will glean more plot and less product from the movie, or so producers would hope.

Then again, how many volleyballers now call their precious sidekick “Wilson”? Arguably the best product placement…ever. We'll see if Cars can race to beat that feat...

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