Couple of days ago two friends asked me (on separate occasions) if I had seen the movie No Strings Attached with Natalie Portman (Emma) and Ashton Kutcher (Adam). They were curious if I had seen Toyota Prius’ product placement. Since I’ve written about Prius’ unorthodox product placement in the blog post Toyota Prius – a wannabe product placement star?, I’ve decided to watch this romantic comedy about a guy and girl who try to keep their relationship strictly physical, but it’s not long before they learn that they want something more.
The movie is full of various placements. In his article No Strings Attached: Product Placement Guru Ashton Kutcher Gets Busy Abe Sauer of Brand Channel counted nearly 30 products: cars (BMW, Toyota Prius, Dodge, Mercedes, Audi), Stella Artois beer, Dearfoams slippers, iPhone … they even mentioned Harvard and MIT.
The most interesting placement is Toyota Prius. In the movie The Other Guys one character described Prius as “a tampon on wheels” and driving experience as “like driving around in a vagina.” The similar situation occurred also in No Strings Attached.
Prius was involved in two scenes. In the first Emma and her male co-worker Sam drove to the cafe in his Prius where they met Adam and his friend Eli. Soon after they had disappeared Adam and Eli talked about the car:
Adam: “You really think she’s just using him for his car?”
Eli: “No, Adam, I don’t. I think he wants to fuck her in his Prius. And the thing about fucking in a Prius is that you don’t have to feel guilty afterwards.”
Adam: “Cause of the carbon footprint?”
The second Prius’ placement happened during an awkward conversation between Adam and Sam, who (of course) tried to steal Emma from Adam. In that scene Adam branded Prius as “nice, but kind of girly” car. But there’s also a final twist: at the end of the movie it turned out that Prius’ owner (Sam) is really a gay (of course).
It seems that Prius somehow became a product placement joke in Hollywood. If that assumption is true, then Toyota has a serious problem, because I really don’t want to buy/drive a car that has been mocked in Hollywood movies. Abe Sauer even wrote: “As has become standard for Hollywood, no Prius can appear in a film without a punchline.”
Is it possible that this is just a part of a grand scheme or the guys from Toyota have a weird sense of humour?
You can check more examples of product placement from No Strings Attached at my Flickr profile of Brands&Films Facebook page
Common … Who gives a f**k about Hollywood films?
Now, if it were used for the same purpose at any independent film festivals, I might be ready to think about it – for a second or two.
But Hollywood? It makes me love my Prius even more…
I don’t have anything against Prius and I’m glad you love your car. But in my opinion those kind of placements can hurt the brand. No Strings Attached has grossed more than $147 million worldwide, while The Other Guys performed even better – the movie grossed $170 million worldwide. That’s the main reason why you can’t underestimate the power of Hollywood production.
Yeah, OK: I do know about the fiscal power of Holly wood movies (and I wasn’t implying you dislike Prius, I promise :-) and even if you did it would be OK) but … I can’t imagine that the greater majority of movie goers lets those movies prescribe their taste to such a high degree they’d be afraid to buy a Prius in case they become a target for Tampax-on-wheels jokes …
I don’t want to overestimate the power of Hollywood production, but movies could be one of the elements that can influence your choice of a car brand. Product placement won’t directly influence your decision, however it could make a certain brand more/less appealing to you.
I agree that after seeing The Other Guys or No Strings Attached no-one will be afraid to buy Prius, but maybe someone who is in the early stage of car buying process could see Prius as a “joke-car”.