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Why you shouldn't wear a company's logo, unless you get paid for it


As someone who has always been fascinated with advertising, I've always been aware of what is called "product placement". I first started noticing it in the movies in the 1980s when the James Bond movies went from having mentioning things like "Aston Martin", "Walther PPK" and "Rolex" to where the movies were becoming crowded with things that advertisers had paid to place for James Bond to use, or blow up. I remember cringing back in the '80s when I saw tables with umbrellas on them which all said "Bacardi" right before the big car chase plowed into them. I had been studying Marketing at ASU, and maybe I was overly aware of it it, but I thought that it was far from subtle. I know that stunt scenes are expensive, and that the product placement of Bacardi helped pay for it.

Of course, companies knew that they could pay to get their product featured in a movie, or on TV. Some companies were slow on the uptake, the most famous being when Steve Spielberg was told that he couldn't get permission to use M&Ms for his movie "E.T", and the Reese's Pieces Company stepped up and said "sure!" That made them a lot of money, with a lot of exposure. Good move for Reese's Pieces, bad for M&Ms. Apparently they didn't know the value of product placement. Or someone at the company didn't know.

Product placement is now something that everyone knows about, and it makes people suspicious. If someone posts a photo on Instagram, can you tell if a paid sponsor has given them money to be holding that bag of Lay® potato chips? Do you think that all of the companies that I just mentioned are giving me money? They're not, but it could happen, and there's no law that says that I would need a disclaimer for that. I do have a disclaimer on this blog, but it basically tells you that I'll be up front and honest with you, in spite of whatever advertising revenue I might get. And that leads me into the point of this blog post: why are you wearing a logo?

I just looked at the photo of you on Facebook, or Instagram, and I can clearly see a logo. That's the Nike logo on your shoes, and isn't that C9 from Target on your sweatshirt? And waitaminute, that's the Mercedes logo on your car, isn't it? No, wait, it's Hyundai.

You should, of course, be getting money from these companies for promoting their products. But I know what you're saying, that's ridiculous! Am I supposed to rip the logos off of all of my clothing, and tape over the logo on my car, before posting a photo? Of course no one does that. And that's why product placement will continue to be a viable way for a company to promote its product. Good product placement is subtle, but noticeable. It's an art form, and I enjoy seeing it done well.