PSY's music video for his new song "Gentleman" boasts his usual pelvic thrusting and hand flailing. Except, this time he's waving farts in people's faces. And, oh yeah, it's one giant commercial for alcohol, mobile games, and copy paper.
Product placement in music videos is nothing new. But PSY and many others are starting to cram as many product spots as they can into their videos for profit — and people are catching on.
Britney Spears is one notorious offender in her video "Hold It Against Me." Before the song is halfway over, she has her hands on one of her own perfumes, eye shadow from "Make Up Forever," and various Sony products. She also uses the dating site PlentyOfFish.com, for which she reportedly received $500,000. But in her defense, at least these products contribute ever-so-slightly to the video's feeble plotline.
Lady Gaga's "Telephone," on the other hand, throws Miracle Whip and Polaroid cameras into her surreal life of homoerotic crime and punishment. She also manages to use PlentyOfFish.com and her Virgin Mobile phone between poisoning a diner full of people and dancing with bikini-clad women. No reports indicate how much Gaga made from these spots.
Even without condiments or perfume, PSY is probably the biggest product placement guru in and out of his videos. He acts as spokesperson for Hite beer, Double A paper, and a brand of soju called Chamisul — and conveniently, all three make appearances in "Gentleman." The game developer for Candy Crush Saga also allegedly fronted $1 million for a spot in the video, though sources won't indicate how much Psy was really paid
Cash alone could convince artists to shove mayonnaise and perfume into their videos — after all, commercials don't cut it anymore as a source of funding. Compare the videos on YouTube with the ones we (used to) watch on MTV: viewers only watch a 30-second commercial before a YouTube video, while cable watchers daze through 3 to 4-minute commercial breaks. According to the New York Times, musicians have to compensate for profit somewhere when networks won't allow those placements.
Some musicians question how much is too much, but artists such as Katy Perry say "U hv to get creative w/it. Some artists don't care tho, & u can tell" (via Twitter). She later said, "Most, if not ALL popsters welcome deals w/products 2 offset costs of big budget vids in these recessional music industry times. I'VE used them in MY vids before & am happy 2b able 2 make a better vid because of." All things considered, playing Just Dance on a Wii during "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" is probably more tasteful than dancing (and poisoning people) with Miracle Whip.
Blatant product placements can backfire to a point where we think the artist "didn't care" about presentation. But in PSY's case, it was actually the content of the video that backfired — Korea banned it because he kicked a traffic cone within the first six seconds (which qualifies as destroying public property). Not to mention Korea has different standards for product placement in their videos and tends to cover up logos, thereby shielding potential consumers from all that beer, soju, and … copy paper.
At least, Korean viewers won't be as threatened from PlentyOfFish.com, mobile phone spots, and face farts. As for everyone else, watch out.