Let me begin this blog post with a short glossary (in a very special order):
- Scott Pilgrim – a graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O'Malley. It consists of six black-and-white volumes, released between August 2004 and July 2010.
- Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness – the third volume of the series.
- The Smashing Pumpkins – an American alternative, punk, gothic, psychedelic, arena rock, electronica, dream pop, heavy metal band.
- Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness – the third album by The Smashing Pumpkins and the band’s best-selling record (9.8 million copies in the United States).
- Zero – a song by The Smashing Pumpkins. It was the third single from the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
- Coke Zero – a diet variation of Coca-Cola. It is marketed as having zero sugar, except in the United States, Canada, and Taiwan, where it is marketed as having zero calories.
Why this glossary? Because recent movie adaptation of the aforementioned graphic novel Scott Pilgrim vs. The World includes potentially one of the best executions of product placement in 2010.
Scott Pilgrim is a 22-year Canadian slacker living in Toronto (in the book he’s 23). He has started “dating” a Chinese-Canadian high-schooler, Knives Chau, but has also fallen in love with a mysterious roller girl Ramona Flowers. If he wants to win Ramona’s heart, he must beat her seven exes…
Scott’s wardrobe is basically the same throughout the movie: a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers. In the opening and the closing scenes he wears a green t-shirt with The Smashing Pumpkins’ logo: a heart with a S.P. in it (S.P. as Scott Pilgrim?).
Later he wears a black T-shirt with a sign ZERO. It’s homage to an iconic outfit that was worn by Pumpkins’ frontman Billy Corgan during the world tour in support of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. The outfit consisted of Billy’s shaved head, a longsleeve black shirt with the word “Zero” printed on it, and silver pants.
Zero can be also a reference to Scott’s personality. As I said, in order to win her heart, he must beat Ramona’s seven exes, but what is his number? Zero? Apparently. But here comes the most interesting part of this product placement: Coke Zero. There was no Coke Zero in the graphic novel, of course.
If there was a paid product placement, then kudos must be given to Coca Cola for their creativity and execution. In the movie Coke Zero became Scott Pilgrim’s favourite drink. Good fit? Perfect! Not only is the name totally suitable, Coke Zero is also primarily marketed towards young adult males (according to Wikipedia). The whole placement is nicely done, not obtrusive and brilliantly incorporated in the story.
But there are some more interesting examples from the movie. In the graphic novel the reader can’t really see the brand of Scott’s sneakers, but in the movie his choice is obvious. He wears Adidas Originals model Superstar. There is a scene in the movie when Scott is getting ready for a fight. He’s changing clothes and while the scene is shot in kind of fast -forward motion, director Edgar Wright shot lacing of the Adidas shoes in a slow-motion, thus generated more screen time for Adidas.
Adidas shoes can be also seen on the movie poster and on the cover of the movie soundtrack. Look closely to both pictures and spot the difference.
There are 4 stripes on Adidas shoes on the cover of the soundtrack. I have no idea why there are 4 of them, but it’s kind of intriguing, isn’t it?
But that wasn’t the only Adidas’ placement in the movie. One of the Scott’s opponents (Todd) was wearing a white Adidas T-shirt with an enormous three on his chest (he was Scott’s third opponent BTW) and three stripes on his sleeves.
Coke Zero’s product placement in Scott Pilgrim was really nicely done, but what if that wasn’t even a product placement, but just director’s idea? Well, in that case, Coke got perfect exposure, very positive fit within the movie and with its target group. For ZERO money. Now, that’s a perfect product placement.