I did this project because I’ve always found funny to stack-up things. I first started to make small paintings, writing all the brands in a given issue of Vogue. However, those were not very meaningful. When I first watched Sex and the City a couple of months ago, it seemed to be the right material: my basic video editing skills would not tempt me to distort or interpret the original medium.
Meanwhile, I stumbled upon a lot of video compilations from TV shows (e.g. all the times Jesse Pinkman says “Bitch” in Breaking Bad). Those videos are mesmerising, but I felt that most of them relied on language-related humor.
I wanted to explore my own emotions. When watching Sex and the City‘s finale, I was emotionally attached to the characters and I cried for a bit. I couldn’t help but wonder: is it OK to feel something in front of a piece of content that could also be seen as a gigantic piece of advertisement? I felt the same when watching some well-thought commercials, like The Best Job in The World for Procter & Gamble. In some ways, I felt that the bounds between my own emotions and corporations’ interest could be closer than I though.
I am not a die-hard fan of the show, even though I liked it. I don’t think it’s the point of this project. The point is: to what extent is an open-heart immune to subtle yet intensive product placement? That said, this project does not intend to give a comprehensive picture of the show’s product placements: First, a lot of them are non-verbal (e.g. Christian Louboutin is mentioned only one time, but you can often see Carrie wearing his shoes). Second, some brand-namedropping are often reinforced by what the characters say, especially when they talk bad about the brand or when they quote taglines (e.g. Aidan talking about KFC and saying: “It’s finger lickin’ good”).
I don’t know which product placement worked the best. I’ve only read that some smaller brands (like Manolo Blahnik) got really famous thanks to the show.
I thought I’ll never do this video since it seemed too much work, without any guarantee that it will look good. I’ve changed my mind when I saw Star Wars sorted alphabetically: it seemed possible, so I went on. I didn’t count but it took me roughly 60 hours to make it. First, I’ve read all the English subtitles in order to weed out non-brand related words. I then had a 1500-entries Excel spreadsheet: brands, and plenty of nouns that were American cultural references I didn’t know about. I looked up everything in Google and got down to 838 occurrences. I took all the episodes into a video editing software, extracted manually brand-names from the conversations and renamed the clips.
To end with, I uploaded it on YouTube and wrote all the subtitles.
The author of this article and also ‘Brands And The City’ video is Pierre Buttin. Pierre is an artist who lives and works in Lyon and Paris, France. Born in 1987, he graduated from Strate College Designers in Paris, and was an exchange student at Aalto School of Arts & Design in Helsinki.