One of the earliest examples of product placement within a song can be found in Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Not only did it have its little toy surprise going for it, Cracker Jack also had a memorable mention in the chorus of this (now) immortalized melody. Written in 1908 by Jack Norworth and later scored by Albert Von Tilzer, the chorus goes like this (feel free to sing along...):
Take me out to the ball game, Take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, I don't care if I never get back, Let me root, root, root for the home team, If they don't win it's a shame. For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out, At the old ball game.
Since then, many products have popped up in tunes around the world -- some have even garnered top billing, appearing in the title. Consider Run-DMC's track "My Adidas" from their multi-platinum album, Raising Hell. Long before Biggie Smalls and Jay-Z were giving props to Cristal champagne, Run-DMC was giving a lot of air time and screen time to the fashionable footwear. They weren't only singing about their Adidas; the tennis shoes were a prominent element in their dress.
While Adidas didn't commission Run DMC, and Norworth and Tilzer weren't paid to promote Cracker Jack, many of today's music professionals are striking deals and getting paid. According to AdAge: Marketers Explore Product Placements in Music:
AdAge also reports:
In almost all cases, a brand has found its way into a rap song because of artist preference or through an organic, creative predilection and not because of a record label dictate to appease an advertiser. For example, not until Busta Rhymes' recent single "Pass the Courvoisier Part Two" moved a healthy number of units was a promotional deal with Allied Domecq completed. This relationship has had a significant boost on sales of the Allied Domecq brand, according to the company.
As products are finding their way into movies, television, music, books and video games, it would seem like there's nowhere else to go. But with digital technology continuing to skyrocket in both form and function, there's a seemingly endless stream of new and innovative ways to put products in front of potential consumers. Whatever the future holds, there's no doubt you'll continue to see many of your favorite stars holding, handling and using products of all kinds on the big and small screens for years to come.
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