Superman is already a $170m brand superhero as Man of Steel tops the product placement charts
Even before it opens this week, the latest Superman has already brought in millions of dollars through product placement
Paul Bignell is an Assistant News Editor at The Independent. He has previously been the acting News Editor of the i Paper, a home news reporter for The Independent for one year and a reporter for the Independent on Sunday for six years.
Monday 10 June 2013
His Achilles heel was always the green glow of Kryptonite, but now Superman has found another green symbol he actually enjoys – the dollar.
The latest reboot of the Superman film franchise, Man of Steel, opens in cinemas this week and promises to be one of the summer’s blockbusters.
But, unknown to the fans who will flock to auditoriums across Britain, the film also promises to covertly showcase dozens of products as it cashes in on the long-running franchise.
From a Clark Kent-inspired glasses collection by Warby Parker to a new Nokia mobile phone, which presumably will have super-signal, the film will be littered with placed products from commercial partners.
While promotional tie-ins and product placement are nothing new in Hollywood – James Bond has been requesting vodka martinis, driving an Aston Martin and consulting an Omega watch for 50 years – the sheer number of partners for Man of Steel is.
The clamour to reference products has been so strong that Warner Bros has almost 100 promotional partners lined up, which has earned it $170m (£109m) already.
Brands including the US car manufacture Chrysler are now thought to have given Man of Steel the dubious accolade of having accrued the most advertising brands ever associated with a film.
Before doing any business at the box office, the film has recouped three-quarters of the $225m it cost to make.
“More and more companies are looking to the film industry to promote their brands, as films are a great source of integrated advertising. And they provide aspirational characters, which companies are keen to associate their products with,” said Ryan Newey of the advertising agency Fold7.
He added: “Brands are a part of our routine. We receive 5,000 messages every day – if a film were brand-less, it would not be real life.”
Some fans have questioned whether the clean-living hero should be associated with junk food, including pizza and a “super bacon cheeseburger”, as he is in the new film. “What’s this? Superman promoting fast food, aspartame-laced, toxic, genetically zombified food?” wrote one fan on the film’s Facebook page.
Last year’s children’s film The Lorax, which had a strong environmental and anti-materialist message, had more than 70 partners, including a gas-guzzling SUV, which many deemed inappropriate.
Danny Rogers, editor of America’s advertising bible, Campaign magazine, said: “It depends on the brand and the film: it works in the Bond films because, even in the original books, Fleming used to quote brands himself.
“It also works in a TV series like Mad Men, where it’s all about brands and advertising. But sometimes it doesn’t work so well and people won’t even notice – particularly when there are 100 product tie-ins.”
He said that Hollywood was becoming “pushed for cash”, while brands were trying to “get closer to content” rather than relying on advertising.
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