A Public Affair

I never thought I'd say this, but I want my pixelated MTV. I grew up in the days when not only did MTV play videos, but brands and logos, good or bad, were blurred out. Nine times out of 10, if you looked hard enough, you could still distinguish the logo. Technology has improved, so we now see brand names and logos in pixelated form, virtually unrecognizable. You'll find this is a common practice on reality TV programs.

This doesn't mean that music videos aren't chock full of product placement. I'm used to seeing expensive cars and Fendi, Gucci, and Prada name-dropped regularly. But HP? This wasn't a brand I expected to come across in an MTV video. Especially a Jessica Simpson video.

While channel-surfing this weekend, I came across MTV's "Making the Video," which went behind the scenes while director Brett Ratner shot Jessica Simpson's new video,  "A Public Affair." The video contains cameo appearances by Eva Longoria, Christina Applegate, Christina Milian, Maria Menounos Ryan Seacrest and Andy Dick.

There are at least three instances where HP products and the HP logo get heavy exposure. One scene shows an HP flat-screen TV mounted behind the roller rink DJ; another scene shows the TV again, along with a close-up of the HP computer used by the DJ; and a final shot shows Andy Dick taking pictures of Simpson and her entourage with an HP phone. Click here to watch the video. Not bad for a four-minute video. It's probably more exposure delivered for the brand to a target audience than your average 30-second spot delivers.

Is the HP nod in the "A Public Affair" video connected to a campaign promoting Simpson's debut single?  That promotion enables fans to purchase a customized single that features their name in the song, all for $1.99--a personalized touch that recalls HP's new tag line, "The Computer is Personal Again."

In addition, the first two TV ads launched by HP under this new tag were targeted toward teens and featured Olympic gold medallist Shaun White, aka the Flying Tomato, and rapper Jay-Z.

Traditional brand advertising in an unconventional outlet? Yes. Is this an alternative way to reach teenagers outside of the overpopulated and over-advertised MySpace? Will the Millenials use their disposable income on HP products? That remains to be seen. Me? I like music and a story with my videos, not product integration. I'd rather see a blurry image than a HP phone thrust upon me.

Have you seen similar uses of unconventional brands using product placement in music videos (and not the usual luxury brand suspects)? If so, post to the MediaCreativity blog and make it a public affair.

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