Before we start, I’m going to make it clear I’m not analysing the positives or negatives of product placement in entertainment or whether or not they are effective. I’m certain plenty of other people have deconstructed this and probably did a better job than I would so I’m just going to leave that alone. A few weeks ago I had a feature about anime being used for advertising and it was suggested in the comments that a post on product placement wouldn’t go astray. So here is a rambling post about product placement in anime.
Much like anime used as advertising I don’t have any particular issue with product placement provided it doesn’t interfere with getting a good story. An example where product placement actually becomes intrusive is Code Geass. Mind you, I love Code Geass but when one of the few facts I remember about one of the main characters is that she eats a lot of pizza I have to suggest that maybe Pizza Huts product placement was more effective than the show’s characterisation.
Now, this is an extreme example and it is the first one that came to my mind when thinking about anime with overt product placement. A quick google search confirmed that a lot of other people found it a little bit prolific within the anime. And Code Geass isn’t the only anime with Pizza Hut featured fairly prominently. Both A Certain Scientific Railgun and Darker Than Black have scenes complete with Pizza Hut product placement.
But you know, characters need to eat, so why not?
I actually find it more amusing when it is clear the anime doesn’t have the right to use the real product’s name and we get some fantastic variants.
Then we have anime that actually use a product to help define the characters (not quite the same as having the product more memorable than the character). Steins;Gate did this really well with Dr Pepper, and I’ll admit while watching the anime I was tempted to think that maybe I wanted to drink Dr Pepper. There are 2 reasons why sanity resumed after watching. Firstly, I can’t buy Dr Pepper where I live and secondly, it tastes like cough syrup. Sorry, but it does. That doesn’t stop it being awesome in Steins;Gate.
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Though, we have more than just food examples. Electronics (Sony and Panasonic) are regularly shown (though usually not the real ones just amusing variants). One of my favourites is when they show us characters searching online. Very rarely are the characters using Google but there are some really close variants out there.
Lastly, I think Angel Beats kind of nailed product placement when they didn’t use a real product but just name the drinks in the vending machine after the creators.
So opening this up into a discussion: What are your favourite example of product placement? Or where did product placement feel out of place? Or just how do you feel about the use of product placement in anime?