I went along to a preview of the Wall Street sequel last night. Enjoyable, certainly, but as ever (brand geek that I am) I was on the look out for product placement and my word was there a lot to choose from.
While Brand Cameo provides a very nice summary of all the brands who got screen time, I thought it would be more interesting to visually display which ones had the biggest impact on me. So I created a Wordle to represent them:
Now I’m not saying this is based on the average consumer, because I am a brand-obsessed marketer who was actively looking out for them. But I’ve created this based on the impact each brand left me with.
Of the 33 brands present on the screen, I managed unprompted recall of 7 – Bulgari, Heineken, Johnnie Walker (Blue), Lay’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Toyota and Ducati. Another two that, on being prompted, I felt also had a prominent role were Border’s and Cracker Jack (the latter of which got a verbal reference, a minor plot-line and on-screen package presence).
In terms of credibility? The Heineken reference was absurd: in a restaurant setting, Gekko (Michael Douglas) offers Jake (Shia LeBeouf) a drink and instead of the more natural ‘Can I get you a beer?’, he offers the specific branded lager (which LeBeouf accepts), showing an unusual prior knowledge of drinks taste for an exchange between relative strangers.
Bulgari has a natural narrative placement in one storyline, but there is an additional black tie fundraiser scene where half the screen time is taken up with scene-setting shots focused tightly on the bejewelled ears and necks of all the female guests – no doubt who were all dressed by the luxury jeweller. Slightly gratuitous.
Ducati absolutely has a natural fit in one section of the movie, and the branding doesn’t feel overdone. Toyota more or less serves a purpose, but had no specific plotline supporting its involvement (unlike Ducati) – appearance-wise it looks like an odd choice of model for the protagonists (not the best-looking car), but on further probing I gather it is a Toyota Prius. It is the ‘lefty'[sic] Winnie (Carey Mulligan) who we see driving it (implication being it is hers rather than Jake’s) so I guess, given the Prius’s über-green credentials, it actually seems a pretty good character fit.
Other brands appear just for screen time: Dunkin’ Donuts and Lay’s being two. The offer of a Johnnie Walker Blue from Jake to his Japanese clients as a gift is a bit over-sold but more or less believable (though I remain unconvinced you would refer to the brand by name on presentation of the bottle).
The nicest brand reference is probably Cracker Jack (another Frito Lay brand) – I won’t expand too much for fear of plot-spoilers ahead of release – but their presence in the movie is believable, fits with the narrative and isn’t over-sold.
What really interests me is how much the average movie-goer would have picked up from all of these. If there’s anyone reading this who doesn’t lamely watch movies for the brand mentions, please do leave your comments below.