By Sunny Um WIRED Korea
Tech companies adopt many kinds of advertising strategies to sell their products, and product placement is one of them. Companies lend their gadgets to fictional characters or real-world people on screen – most commonly on television shows, movies, and personal videos – to give positive feelings towards their items.
Even though it may not be an explicit way of advertisement, companies still would want their audience to have good impressions about their high-tech gizmos. Perhaps that’s why Apple doesn’t let villainous film characters to use their products, says Rian Johnson, writer and filmmaker of a mystery movie “Knives Out”.
“Apple, they let you use iPhones in movies, but – and this is very pivotal – if you’re ever watching a mystery movie, bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera,” said Johnson in a video released by Vanity Fair on February 25.
The statement is true, at least in his movie, as some characters in Knives Out carry or use iPhones, while the real villain does not.
Apple is widely known for having stringent rules about how their gadgets are portrayed in movies and television shows. As per its legal guidelines, the company’s products should be “shown only in the best light, in a manner or context that reflects favorably on the Apple products and on Apple Inc.”
Apparently, this is an attempt to avoid any possible backlashes of having their products linked to negative images, which could impact their sales in the long run.
For instance, an automobile maker Audi provided their cars for characters of a Korean detective movie released in 2002, “Public Enemy.” The main villain, Jo Kyu-hwan, drove an Audi A6 in the screenplay. As the movie recorded a huge success, sales of Audi A6s dropped, an internet news outlet The Fact reported. The automaker did not provide any more cars for the movie’s sequels.
It’s not only Apple that doesn’t second the idea of letting bad guys use their gadgets. Tech companies in Korea also refuse to be linked to villainous characters.
“Anyone working at the marketing department wouldn’t like to let villains use their products,” says a public relations official at LG Electronics. “In principle, our product placement is intended to show our products in more favorable terms. Unless a company has built a product primarily for bad guys, I don’t think the company would like to let them use it.”
However, there is no such thing as a clear-cut guideline on product placement that filmmakers or creators should refer to. “It’s not like we have specific rules governing the use of our products by fictional characters,” says the LG Electronics official.
It is the same with Samsung Electronics.
“If we have a new device we would like to promote, we usually make or receive suggestions on product placement from film producers,” says an official of Samsung Electronics.“ There is no particular standard or guideline set for negotiations with them, though.”
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