hip hop music

April 7, 2003

MTV: "Stop Being So Commercial!"

MTV Cry to Artists: Stop the Shilling

Network tries to cut product placement in its music videos

In her recent music video, rapper Ms. Jade is swerving on a dark city street to the beat of her song "Ching Ching." She's behind the wheel of a sparkling, tank-sized Hummer H2, as is a rival racing alongside.

The Hummers seem to get as much screen time as Ms. Jade.

That bit of product placement cost the Hummer's manufacturer, General Motors Corp., some $300,000 - more than half the expense of the video produced by Interscope Records. It also represented another win for record labels in the catch-me-if-you-can game they're playing with Manhattan-based MTV, which has prohibited advertising in videos.

Major record companies, strapped for cash amid flagging CD sales, have been defying MTV, teaming up with advertisers willing to help finance costly videos in exchange for product visibility.

In the past, MTV screeners - worried the cable channel's savvy teen and young-adult audience would rebel against that kind of selling - have forced labels to blur images of products or logos that found their way into videos. But "Ching Ching" and other clips financed in part by corporate sponsors have sneaked in under the radar.

Faced with the record industry's miserable economics, MTV's gatekeepers now suggest gingerly that they may allow some marketing messages in videos - but only if they decide that a product placement is discreet and fits with a clip's theme or story line. So far, they haven't.

"We're trying to be as sensitive as we can to the labels' financial issues without risking the trust of our audience," said Tom Calderone, MTV's executive vice president of music and talent.

I am amused by MTV's high minded stance, claiming they are simply worried about "maintaining trust with the audience".. I'm sure the fact that they are missing out on money here, and these companies are basically getting to advertise on MTV without paying MTV, does not factor into their concern at all.

Also, this goes to show that the music industry will use their financial woes much like the Bush administration is using the threat of terrorism, to justify all types of shady dealings, and expand their powers as far as they can push them.

Posted by jsmooth995 at April 7, 2003 3:08 PM

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