I guess today's consumers are a cynical bunch. There was a time when product placements in entertainment were a dirty little secret. Then the '80s came, and a generation grew up with Saturday morning cartoons that were just 30-minute toy commercials. Young adult TV shows started to be sponsored by retail fashion brands. James Bond started selling BMWs controlled by Ericcson cellphones. Etc. Etc.
Fast-forward to the digital age of advertainment. People willingly watch long-form commercials that can be 5+ minutes long. They know it's all selling, and they don't mind at all. It's just the way it is.
Into this context comes the next convergence of advertising and entertainment: "shoppable film"
Next week, Target will launch "Falling For You," starring Kristen Bell (of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Veronica Mars). It's "a romantic comedy highlighting fall fashion, beauty and home product from Target—a clever extension of the fall marketing campaign."
In three online episodes, the target market can watch Kristen, along with Zachary Abel (“Make It or Break It”) and Nia Long (Fresh Prince of Bel-aire”, “Big Mama’s House”) play three Target employees bumbling their way through planning a fashion show. The video hints that two of the characters fall in love along the way — I'll assume they mean the two white people of opposite gender.
As they watch the "film," viewers can e-shop the clothes they see from Target without stopping the action. Because I'm sure it's riveting.
As Consumerist put it:
Are you sick of movies that try to ruin solid product placement with things like plot, action, and characters? Do you also ache to see B-list TV actors cashing a paycheck by appearing in extended commercials for a discount retailer? Then the folks at Target have got the show for you!