Have you ever been really engrossed in a movie, only to have its spell broken by a blatant advertisement? You sit there thinking, “Why would the director have this big emotional moment playing out in front of a Coca-Cola billboard? It’s all I end up seeing in the shot.”
In that case, it’s possible the director did not have a choice. As the costs of making movies and promoting them continue to rise, movie studios are looking for ways to save money. One recent boon has been tax credits. Areas like Georgia, Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia offer tax credits—sometimes quite substantial ones—to encourage production in those areas. Depending on the size of the production, than can mean millions of dollars in savings, while also leading to much local hiring and economic stimulation. So, win-win, even though it means Toronto having to sub for New York City yet again.
However, Hollywood has spent more time relying on the quick and easy savings that come from product placement. In the early days of the practice, having someone eat Kentucky Fried Chicken onscreen might mean a few days worth of free chicken for the cast and crew. However, the rewards have expanded considerably in recent years. Depending on the movie and the product, millions of dollars might change in hands in order for James Bond to wear a certain type of watch or a drink a certain brand of alcohol (Daniel Craig’s 007 infamously broke from tradition of Vodka Martinis by drinking Heineken beer in SKYFALL).
Do you find it distracting to see name brands appearing in movies and TV shows? Producers argue that this adds to the realism, but if you bought a ticket (and are already sitting through ads before the movie or during the show), haven’t you already done your part?