Product Placement in Nollywood: “Got to have it” or “Make it stop,” By Efeturi Doghudje

A critic of poor product placement in Nollywood movies

Product placement in Hollywood dates back to the silent film era and it is everywhere. However, it was not until E.T. (1982) craved those colorful little candies that brand marketing really took off. Now, 32 years later, it’s so pervasive we hardly even notice it – a Pepsi can here, an iPhone there. They are ubiquitous in real life, so why should they not appear on the big screen?

What is the point of this? Product placement in Nigerian movies! Is it necessary? I feel it is.
In fact, if we use these products on a regular basis, there’s nothing wrong with them being in our movies.
That Nollywood has been able to sustain itself without the help of the big brands in the country is more power to their elbows.
However, I have a problem with the few movies that are sponsored by corporations. I just believe there is something seriously wrong when the product being “advertised” directs your attention away from the film or its plot.

Can you imagine watching a James Bond movie where he says, “With my Omega wristwatch, I am going to slice through thick chains.” Or Agent Salt (in Salt, 2010) saying, “I would jump on a Bolt Bus” to escape or Tony Stark (Ironman 1 to 3, 2008, 2010, 2013) saying, “Let’s drive away in my Acura.”
All these products were “placed” in these movies but as stated earlier they were not specifically highlighted in such a way that it is thrown in the viewer’s face and you just knew that someone paid money for this to be here. In Nollywood, this is the case.
When scenes are created specifically to advertise a product without any useful or meaningful addition to the plot, it makes for a lengthy and tiring movie.
In Finding Mercy (2013), three scenes where dedicated solely to the advertisement of Procter & Gamble products. In Doctor Bello (2013), it was MTN; GLO in Phone Swap (2012); Onga in Eletan (2011) – this was a scrolling message – and then Unilever and a host of other brands in Jenifa 3 (2011).

While there is need for resources to carry out these movie productions, I fail to understand what the outward benefits are to the brands. What are the figures in terms of sales? Which of these brands can boast of a boost in sales after these movies premiered?

What I believe these brands receive are intangible benefits which include but are not limited to good will, positioning and positive perception.

In conclusion, product placement is a must have in the industry –yes – but our producers and directors just need to find subtle and creative ways of achieving this without robbing the viewer of a great movie experience.

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