I can’t exactly pinpoint when the phenomenon of using advertisements in music videos actually began but I do recall it begin a common practice in the early 2010s. So many artists, especially very popular ones, were doing it. I never truly understood the point besides the obvious large audience they would reach. The ads also possibly helped pay for the production of the video which is of course a plus, but besides the financial support, I always wondered what the artist actually got out of it. And for the most part, the main things that were being advertised were Beats headphones or speaker pills, EOS lip balm (which isn’t great anyway) and lots of vodka. Even as a young teen watching these videos, I always thought the placements were far too obvious for comfort.
With most ads placed very, well, un-strategically, what once was an art form used to bring songs to life has become a tacky, three minute commercial. The products normally being marketed include electronics like headphones, speakers, phones and watches, but the one that really gets me is the lip balm and liquor placements. At least a phone or speaker is something that looks more like a prop but using lip balm or just casually showcasing a bottle of alcohol is probably the most bland thing you can do in a music video. They’re all just as bad, however, and I don’t think these placements will ever become any better placed over time.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, it turns out that being tacky isn’t the head of the problem here. Littering your music video with advertisements (for products these artists probably don’t even use) derails from the point of a music video in the first place. It takes away the creativity and tarnishes the concept, making it harder for fans to pay attention to the overall message of it. It’s a huge disappointment for the fans as well, where it appears as if the artist only made the video so that they can get paid to sell these products to their fans. Music videos used to be exciting because they felt like mini movies fit to your favorite songs, and it’s unfortunate that recently they’ve become more of a ploy to sell goods than to add to the value of the song.
So, at this point, the video is potentially ruined depending on the severity of the ads, and this damage could potentially seep into the song as well. But at least the listener will remember the ad right? Well sure, but at what cost does the artist damage their reputation? Especially if they’re a frequent offender, I can’t imagine many fans who are irritated by these placements would want to return to a new music video. It would be different if these products were in the songs lyrics as well; expensive cars and shoes are possibly the most common ones we would see. But many times, they’re not and it really comes down to what the artist even receives from all of this. Now, some of you may be thinking, duh, they get a ton of money from it and why would they not take that? But here’s the thing: music videos have become ridiculously expensive; it’s not uncommon to spend at least half a million dollars producing one. And, depending on the amount of money an artist will receive from the placement, I really wonder if they end up making some sort of profit off it at all.
My opinion on this topic comes down to this: if an artist is going to make a music video with heavy advertisement throughout, just don’t even bother making the video to begin with. Just make a television advertisement instead. Besides maybe some extra money, I don’t see what else they really get out of it. Along with that, these products are arguably over-marketed anyway. Trust me when I say that seeing one more singer use a Beats pill in their video won’t make me go out and buy one at this point and I will never like EOS lip balm, regardless of if my favorite pop star uses it or not. Can we just collectively agree to leave this type of thing in the past and let music videos speak for themselves instead of diluting them with companies that probably don’t care about music anyway? Thanks, all of us music video aficionados really appreciate it.