“Reverse Product Placement”

Landon Palmer wonders whether “the extensive viral and cross-promotional marketing of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues might be more innovative than it initially seems”:

What’s striking about the exceeding cross-promotion for Anchorman 2 (in both conventional and viral ads) is that it seems to have entirely replaced direct advertising for the film itself. Having not yet seen it, I have no way of knowing whether the movie actually incorporates any of these products besides Paul Rudd’s [Jockey-made] “retro-briefs” …. But if the film utilizes relatively little product placement, and presents its few niche products solely in a winking, self-reflexive manner, then Anchorman 2 will have achieved something altogether different in the evolving conflict between advertising and filmmaking: reverse product placement.

“This might be good for moviegoing,” continues Palmer:

If the primary complaint about the relationship between advertising and filmmaking is the conspicuous placement of products in films, then a close second is the way that films themselves are advertised. Roger Ebert likely wielded the biggest megaphone on this point, regularly voicing that movie trailers reveal too much information about the film itself, contributing to both the overcalculating tendencies of a risk-averse industry and a spectatorship anathema to the possibility of surprise. But if commercials for other products do the advertising for films, then reverse product placement can perhaps solve both of these problems: the ad/brand/product can be used to advertise the film (while not necessarily [being] incorporated into the film), and in return promotional efforts for the film itself won’t reveal every damn joke and plot point. … While one can easily grow tired of these cross-promotional efforts, they have no essential bearing on the film itself. Reverse product placement, then, offers Hollywood something that has long been missing: the potential for the actual movie to feel somewhat fresh and surprising when it finally hits screens.