MaryLou: The shameless silver screen


What better way for the mobile market to reach consumers’ minds, and shopping trolleys, this Christmas, than through shameless product placement in some of the year’s biggest movie and television productions?

Shameless product placement  – a strategically placed logo on an unnecessarily consumed food item in a television show, for example, or character’s overexaggerated enthusiasm for something – has been a feature of television and the big screen shows for long enough, and it only seems fair that mobile gets in on the act too.

The most amusing that comes to mind, is the use of the iPhone – obviously the 2G version – in Sex and the City, which graced cinema screens earlier this year as an adaptation of the cult US series. Lead character, and heroine of shoe-loving females across the world, Carrie, is stood up at the altar by the infamous Mr Big. She can’t find her phone – which we later find out is a cheap looking clamshell covered in tacky diamantes and held together with sticky tape – and asks to borrow one in an attempt to contact her beloved (who, little does she know, has been calling her repeatedly, highlighting the importance of mobile communication, especially on your wedding day!). Bridesmaid Samanta produces an iPhone, only to have Carrie look at it in horror and shriek, “I can’t work this!”

Glamour savvy PR woman and self confessed man eater Samantha pulls the device out on more than one occasion to call her gal pals, giving it a sexy, fashionista allure, alongside other brands blatantly slotted into the movie – you know, the usual fashion types, like Louis Vuitton and Vivienne Westwood. (Not sure what this movie did for the diamante-clad, nameless clamshell though.) Too bad LG and Prada missed out on getting their second collaboration in the mix.

Not to be outdone, BlackBerry has also found its way into the hands of the rich and famous and has scored the odd mention in Sex and the City episodes (“I’ll be on my BlackBerry” etc). More obviously though, it’s had a supporting role in, again US series, Desperate Housewives, where one of the said ‘housewives’, Gabrielle, is seen using her BlackBerry Pearl, in fashionable blue, to conduct a secret affair with her ex-husband, and of course, to gossip with her fellow housewives. It goes so well with her midriff designer velour tracksuit that she prances around in during her daily workout.

And surely creating device envy in fans worldwide is the new hit series Gossip Girl, whose characters are glued to each of their versions of a QWERTY-slider device for the latest email and picture message scandal updates from the private lives of the filthy rich students in Manhattan’s poshest school. With the beeps sounding at any time of the school day in any part of the school halls, you would hope there’s a network and manufacturer hoping to make its brand synonymous with the coolness this show exudes to its viewers.

These lucrative silver screen agreements surely must reap their rewards and are a way to send the mobile message to the stereotypically tech-blasé female demographic, or the already in the know adolescent market looking for fast and stylish mobile web action. If there is a way they can convince the movie moguls to further use email, search or messenger into the script, then they’ll really be on the money in terms of driving the data usage they have been harping on about all year.

What a way to get a handset noticed – might be shameless product placement, but when it’s successful marketing, it’s a shame not to tap into consumer culture.