Product placement has turned music videos into cash cows, but some extremely smart person (who unfortunately works in advertising and not oncology) has figured out a way to make them even more lucrative: by inserting new brands into existing videos. Fact Magazine reports that Universal Music Group is turning YouTube clips into reusable billboards, where products can be added for the duration of an ad campaign, and then either taken out or replaced with another product.
According to The Independent, “the move is designed to speed up the production process, removing the need for labels and directors to hold lengthy meetings with brands about exactly how the video should look and how their products will be shown off.” That’s right, the production process needs to be sped up because time is money—money that Universal could be making by selling the same piece of ad real estate to five other companies.
UMG plans to pioneer the technology (created by the MirriAd agency) by dropping Grand Marnier into an Avicii video; after an agreed period, that spot will be opened up to the highest bidder. We’re going to assume that Universal is still going to be somewhat thoughtful about which brands it pairs with its artists, but once this technology becomes commonplace, who knows what could happen? Could this happen?
Okay, probably not, because Soylent is waaay too cool for that. But what if you went on YouTube in ten or twenty years and saw this?
And is this really so far fetched, when you take into account D’Angelo’s incredibly unflattering 2010 mugshot? It is not.
We will say this: The ad industry is just as creative as the music world in its ability to keep coming up with original ways to sell us stuff we don’t need. We’re horrified, and also kind of impressed.