Easter weekend saw kid-friendly Rio hold onto number one at the US box office, even as Morgan Spurlock's new doc blew up our Google News alert on "product placement."
This weekend's second-place finisher, Madea's Big Happy Family, also featured some interesting product placements. And while much has been made about differences in the mainstream audience and the Tyler Perry audience, one product placement in particular proves we are not all that different.
The Madea films haven't always been so stingy with the brands. The 2006 film Madea's Family Reunion featured 30 recognizable products. Though a year later, Why Did I Get Married? had only 14. Perry's 2009 was split, with Madea Goes to Jail boasting 33 products and I Can Do Bad All By Myself featuring only 6.
From Cadillac to Budweiser, most of what little product can be found in this latest Madea installment is the punchline of some joke.
Despite a clear effort to keep this Madea film free of brands (e.g., generic soda machines and fast food venues), we were not surprised to see one prominent placement: A wide, shiny silver MacBook, Apple logo turned toward the audience.
The greatest "product placement" in Madea, however, is probably Old Spice Guy — actor Isaiah Mustafa. After becoming a household name as the man your man could smell like, Mustafa makes an impressive move to the big screen.
Some have speculated that the actor (and former football player) would be typecast and unable to shake his Old Spice Guy roots. While it's true that during the first 15 minutes of Mustafa on-screen one wonders if he'll suddenly say, "I'm on a boat," the connection quickly fades, partly because (to the chagrin of more than a few moviegoers) the actor remains clothed.
While Mustafa already has roles lined up in the TV show Chuck and Horrible Bosses, due out later this year, nailing his Madea debut is a huge win for Mustafa, as some iconic pitchmen see their lives consumed by their commercial roles. Old Spice, meanwhile, has been testing a new suave dude whose name we still can't locate (anyone?) with its latest international spot.
One promotional gimmick Madea seemed to missed was a tie-in with the film's running gag about a toll free service charmingly called "1-800-choke-dat-ho." We called up the number (1-800-246-5332) only to meet the screeching of a fax machine.
Since Rio was a repeat #1 and this weekend's new cinematic fare offered so few product placement discussion points, we highly recommend a few alternative thought provoking pieces.
First, in light of the release of Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, the LA Times has an interview with product placement heavyweight Norm Marshall.
Then there is a more artistic approach in the "Conspicuous Product Placement" gallery. See the two examples below for how it offers a whole new way to think about the practice:
Next week we will return to "Rio" (the place) for Fast Five. In the meantime, at top, enjoy a rather comprehensive look from Chud.com at all of the promotional partners, both foreign and domestic, of this week's top film, Rio, including Chiquita and Nesquick. This includes the "augmented Riolity" game.
For all the brands in Rio and other films, visit our Brandcameo product placement tracker.