In September, Universal Music Group announced that it would be selling retroactive product placement ads in music videos along with its partners Mirriad and Havas. Now, we can see even more examples of what they are bringing to the music video ad world and hear different perspectives on this issue.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Havas’ global managing director Dominique Delport, for instance, says these retroactive product placement efforts serve to combat a growing number of consumers who skip ads in various formats. But that’s not all, according to the partners. Mirriad’s CEO, Ted Mico, also says that retroactive product placement, which includes inserting billboards for products where billboards never existed, are a new way to fight pre-roll ads. “Instead of running pre-roll, now you’d buy spots inside the video,” Mico explains, adding that the ads also serve another purpose:
We’re in the business of helping creatives make money out of the things they’ve already made.
Avicii’s manager, Ash Pournouri, concurs, adding that the money earned from these ads could fund bigger creative endeavors “so that creativity doesn’t have to take a dive for financial restraints.” However, David T. Viecelli, who is an agent for Arcade Fire and St. Vincent, doesn’t see it with a positive lens:
It’s becoming much more challenging to develop sustainable revenue for an artist, but selling out is selling out.
Viecelli goes on to say he believes this is a slippery slope to start down. “Avicii’s manager says that, but how far is it between that and saying, ‘It’s unfortunate that Avicii has to blow guys in the bus station for chump change, but it’s the only way that we can get the light show we want on the next tour.’ That’s a very dangerous, slippery slope,” he adds.
The product placement spots can be embedded, replaced and deleted with ease, the report explains. Aloe Blacc’s “The Man” music video, for example, featured a Levi’s ad for 30 days, as part of an agreement, before it was removed. Avicii’s “Lay Me Down” video featured a Grand Marnier ad for some time as part of what his spokesperson called a “test.” One day after the artist was reached for comment for the Rolling Stone article, the ad disappeared, according to the report.
Everyone interviewed for the story agrees on one thing: artists should have a say over what products are advertised in their music videos. But, even as they agree on that aspect of this issue, the debate about retroactive product placement ads will likely continue. Check out the video below, which was first published in September, to see just how product placement ads can change a music video and read more about Universal’s deal here.