Extraterrestrial Product Placement in E.T. by Katy Perry?

Posted on April 26, 2011


When 38million people (and counting) tuned into the music video for Katy Perry’s new song, E.T. (featuring Kanye West), they were certainly in for a totally unique, somewhat mind-blowing visual experience. Little did they know that some of what they were seeing was intentionally placed in an effort to try to subliminally persuade them to buy a certain product.

The video (above) begins with a sad picture of a lonely robot with a glowing heart laying in the midst of a robot junkyard. Next, we see a seemingly unrelated extended video of Kanye West, then an alien-turned-Katy Perry hybrid floating around in outer space. The shot combines sensual pictures of Perry, decked out in an otherworldly gown, with images of open eyes vaguely reminiscent of Blink 182’s “I Miss You” video. Then we see Perry, looking astonishingly gorgeous in a gladiator-type gown, approach the heartbroken robot from the first scene. When she touches his golden heart, he changes to an albino male, and the two walk off into the sunlight together, where we see Perry’s dress blow away to reveal that from her torso and below, she is actually animal (an elk? decide for yourself).

An obvious shot of "Vogue" sunglasses

As a side comment,  I would have to say that these shots are quite obviously created in a green room, ruining the effect for me just a little. Yet, this isn’t my main complaint. Just before Perry and her new lover walk into the sun, the two randomly direct their attention to a pair of “Human Sunglasses Circa 2011” (a pair of Vogue sunglasses). Not only did the pair of sunglasses randomly appear, somewhat breaking the plot (and my concentration), but they are also an obvious example of product placement- something becoming sadly more and more common in popular music videos today.

Britney poses with her perfume, "Radiance", in "Hold it Against Me"

To be fair, Perry’s use of Vogue sunglasses is a bit more cleverly done than most. My favorite example of bad product placement would have to be Britney Spear’s “Hold it Against Me” video, where you see her first grab a bottle of her own Radiance perfume, then apply some eyeshadow of the brand Makeup Forever, then log into Plenty of Fish to surf for a moment (If you can tell me how those three things are related, or even having to do with the larger theme of her music video, I may be able to give Ms. Spears more credit- I assure you, you can’t). Those are just three of the many brands she featured to round up a grand total of around $500,000, according to Jonathon Jaeger at www.musicthinktank.com. According to him, this kind of advertising may have been incorporated in an effort to save the music industry, which is constantly taking hits from widespread illegal downloading. However, it makes both him and me (and many others, I’m sure) cringe. Music videos used to be visually stimulating, romanticized, and sometimes funny- a surefire way to escape the hijinks of commercials which most modern television is saturated with. How can I enjoy a video if its constantly trying to bombard me with the same advertising I have desperately trying to escape? (It goes without saying that youtube’s new inclusion of ads also bothers me.)

All this being said, Katy Perry’s new video is still amazing- and honestly, a favorite of mine. I can’t help but wonder if this is because of her lucrative use of product placement. So as consumers, we are left with a choice- do we fight to keep our videos fresh and free of products, or do we compromise in an effort to get a better video overall? The choice is not always clear cut.

-Conflicted Cathy

Posted in: Music