Britney Spears’ latest music video “Hold It Against Me”, which premiered on Thursday, 17th February 2011, received a lot of hype. It was shown for the first time on MTV, just before the show Jersey Shore and after a few days it has more than 8 million views. For me the most interesting part of the video is product placement.

Before I get into the details, just two important pieces of information:

  • The video was directed by Jonas Akerlund, one of the most famous music videos directors.
  • The song was released by Jive Records, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment.

The video’s got 3 notable products/brands included: Britney Spears’ own perfume Radiance, dating website PlentyOfFish and several Sony products and logos.

Britney is not the first artist to include her perfume in the video. I’ve analysed Christina Aguilera’s product placement in the blog post Carrera is on a product placement mission and recently Avril Lavigne put her perfume Black Star in the music video “What the Hell” (you can see more pictures on my Flickr site). Using music videos for perfume promotion is a clever move, which could be also cost-effective.

Perfume Radiance by Britney Spears in Britney Spears’ music video “Hold It Against Me” (2011, Jive, screen capture)

The use of dating site PlentyOfFish was paid placement. Adam Kluger, chief executive at the Kluger Agency, which has been arranging product placement for PlentyOfFish, has admitted that for New York Times. In his opinion that was the only paid placement in the video. He also said that “the futuristic theme of Ms. Spears’s video and the appearance of on a screen of a computer that she is on suggest that online dating is the future.” You can read more about PlentyOfFish product placement in the blog post PlentyOfFish, plenty of exposure.

Sony’s product placement is obvious if you consider that Jive Records is a unit of Sony Music Entertainment. The same kind of placement happened in the aforementioned Avril Lavigne’s video. She’s part of RCA Records, also owned by Sony. In Britney’s video you can see a lot of Sony products and Sony logo. I have to admit that Sony’s product placement is shameful – it has nothing to do with the story, the products are just there as in some kind of commercial for Sony.

Sony TV in Britney Spears’ music video “Hold It Against Me” (2011, Jive, screen capture)

Speaking of the story: Wikipedia says that “the video features Spears as a pop star who fell from space to find fame on Earth. There, she becomes overwhelmed by the pressures of being a celebrity and breaks down.” MTV recently analysed the video and found several pop-culture references. I have to say that I’ve found an additional one. Near the end of the video Britney starts to eject painting through the tubes in her fingers, staining the room and the monitors.

Colours in Britney Spears’ music video “Hold It Against Me” (2011, Jive, screen capture)

I instantly thought about a Sony ad for Bravia TVs that won the Cannes Lion in 2007, although I don’t really think that there is some sort of connection.

Nevertheless, product placement in Britney’s latest video is another example of product placement prostitution. The products and brands that were used have no connection to the story whatsoever. Producers and brand managers could claim that I’m wrong, but the video is boring and with meaningless story. I’ve stated in the analysis of PlentyOfFish product placement that in some videos their product placement was forced, unnatural and out of context. The same could be said about Sony. Even though Britney (or her label) hired superstar video director, they should’ve worked harder on screenplay, because it’s cr*p!

Brand managers and producers: please, stop forcing brands and products in music videos and putting them in random situations. We don’t deserve that!

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  1. Did you notice “Makeup For Ever” being advertised near the beginning of the video?