Guy Adams: The ultimate sacrifice in product placement

LA Notebook
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The Independent Online

You know the American Dream is alive and well when a penniless teenager brought-up in communist Russia can travel to Los Angeles with a suitcase full of dreams and months later strike a $500,000 (£310,000) deal that will see her plastered across websites, magazines, and TV screens in every corner of the world.

Granted, Anna Morgan, a rising star of LA's adult entertainment industry, may not be a wholesome symbol of apple-pie values. But who can argue with the sheer inventiveness of the new agreement by which an online gaming firm has agreed to pay $500,000 to tattoo its name across her bosom?

"Anna can appear in 50 to 100 films per year, so this gives us a lot of exposure for years to come," noted a statement from the sponsor,, adding that her "natural DD sized breasts provide an ample canvas for our logo."

The arrangement, to be formalised at an ink-shop in Santa Monica next week, is an extreme example of "product-placement," the practice that sees major firms to pay huge sums to ensure that, say, Clive Owen drives their sports car in his next Hollywood film.

Critics often blame product-placement for corrupting Hollywood with crass commercialism. They're right, of course. But here in the US, sport has arguably sold out even more: I went to watch the local basketball side the Lakers on Sunday, and it seemed like every meaningful object in their 20,000-seat arena had a corporate logo attached.

The team trains at the Toyota gym, plays at the Staples Centre, and like most of the nation's professional teams, bossily encourages fans to either drink Budweiser "responsibly" or consume a sickly energy drink called Gatorade.

Its cheerleaders, for their part, are required to cake themselves in an official "make-up brand." I would feel sorry for them. But compared to the permanent disfigurement of a tattoo, theirs is but a small sacrifice to make.

Spot the star

During a Lakers game, few things are so revealing about a celebrity's public standing as the reaction of the crowd when they are highlighted by "stadium cams."

On Sunday, "tween" star Zac Efron was greeted with swooning whoops, Leonardo DiCaprio got polite applause, and American Idol winner Kris Allen prompted isolated boos. Warren Beatty, weirdly, went largely unrecognised.

Pampered pooches

In these depths of recession, a glimmer of hope: next month sees the launch of PetAirways, which caters for the Paris Hiltons of this world who like to travel with lapdogs. It will connect LA with Denver, Chicago, New York and Washington. Fliers will be known as "pawsengers."