The Virgin telephone

Last Friday a new Lady Gaga music video premiered on E! News. The video for the song Telephone attracted 833,000 viewers, a 32% increase from the network’s average performance in the time slot. It also generated close to 4 million views on YouTube in less than 24 hours.

Expensive music videos were in the past reserved mainly for Michael Jackson or Madonna. General characteristics of this kind of videos are extended time length, well-known director, some extravagant scenes or special effects, but mostly they are more like short films. They also generate a lot of positive publicity.

Lady Gaga‘s Telephone has all those characteristics:

  • The director was Jonas Akerlund, who made videos for Madonna, U2, Robbie Williams, Jamiroquai, … In 2002 he also directed the full length movie Spun. Telephone is his second collaboration with Lady Gaga.
  • Time length: 9:29 (song’s original time length is 3:40).
  • Extravagant scenes, products: women’s prison, lesbian scene, special costumes (Viktor&Rolf’s chain dress, »smoking« sunglasses, »Diet Coke« hair style, …).
  • PR effects: the premiere was covered by all the world’s major showbiz and news media.

After the premiere most talk was about product placement in the video. The majority of placements are clearly visible and kind of controversial. To generate the best possible effect of the product placement the brands should be integrated in the plot. But in case of Telephone video it’s hardly so – almost all placements were forced in the shots. We could say that there is a case of product placement prostitution in the Telephone video (we have discussed product placement prostitution here).

Let’s check the most obvious ones:

Virgin telephone

Plenty Of Fish website

Miracle Whip

You can see more examples of product placement in the Telephone video here.

The reports suggest that the video’s budget was between 300.000 and 400.000 USD, so someone has to pay for this. But not every product involved in the video was part of paid product placement (Diet Coke and Wonder Bread; Monster Headphones, Beats laptop).

Here are some thoughts on the most interesting placements:

  • Polaroid – Lady Gaga was named chief creative officer for a line of imaging products for Polaroid in January 2010. New products by Polaroid and Lady Gaga are to hit retail shelves late in 2010, so this placement was expected.
  • Online dating website (paid placement) – reports from the web suggest that the website noticed a massive jump in brand awareness as well as existing users returning. They saw a 15% increase in PlentyOfFish searches and the numbers kept climbing.
  • Miracle Whip (paid placement) – Justin Parnell, brand manager at Miracle Whip said, that Interscope (music label) approached the mayonnaise manufacturer about a spot in the video and they gladly accepted the cash-for-casting: “When we re-launched Miracle Whip last year, we also reached out to a new consumer for the first time, 18-to-35-year-olds, with an engaging new creative campaign. We thought integrating our new package in this music video offered a chance to also engage this same group of younger consumers we want to reach. It is the first music video for Miracle Whip.”

In general there’s nothing wrong with the product placement in that video, because both artist and advertiser can win with deals like these. Some great effects could be achieved with proper product placement:

  • Positive publicity – there are numerous articles, blog posts, tweets, … about the video
  • Higher brand awareness or brand loyalty
  • Positive effect on sales for products involved (Miracle Whip, Wonder Bread?)
  • Higher number of website visits (Plenty Of Fish)
  • Increase in album sales, number of song/album downloads
  • Sold-out concerts
  • Increase in merchandise sales

So, it’s still early days for some serious analysis and we have to wait for the reports on positive/negative effects of collaboration between Lady Gaga and above mentioned brands.

I would like to conclude this analysis with my personal opinion on the whole Telephone hype: I don’t really like Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta and her music, but I have to give her credit for managing the Lady Gaga brand. From her public appearances, gender controversy, and questionable sexual orientation to the latest video – it’s all thumbs up. Perhaps sometimes in the future there would be a Lady Gaga case in marketing handbooks.