The new Britney Spears video for “Hold it Against Me” is crying out for a product placement drinking game. Each time a brand name pops up on screen, take a drink! At roughly 13 cuts to products in fewer than 5 minutes, you’d be feeling pretty happy by the time the nonsensical song and dance fest ended. Spears herself is undoubtedly feeling pretty happy, too. Reports surfaced this week that the star earned a cool $500,000 for her product pimping in the video, which has already seen 11 million hits in the week it’s been on YouTube.
“Hold it Against Me” features quick and lingering shots of Sony electronics, Spears’ own perfume and of the dating website Plenty of Fish (although the video contains neither dating nor, uhm, fish). It is no coincidence that Jonas Akerlund, the director of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” video, also helmed this masterpiece. “Telephone,” in addition to showcasing the limited acting talents of Beyonce, showed off more products than a trip to the Price is Right. Spears and Akerlund’s collaboration is a little more forthright with their love for advertiser money than his previous effort for Gaga – and people aren’t happy. Britney has somehow shattered the illusion for folks that music videos aren’t and haven’t always been big old commercials. Child, please.
Back in the day, Madonna was in deep doo doo for featuring burning crosses in her Like a Prayer video, causing Pepsi to dump her commercial. Madonna claimed the soda company kicked her to the curb because she wouldn’t insert Pepsi into her song lyrics. Today the record industry is on the verge of extinction. Artists like Spears literally can’t afford to tick off advertisers and are actively pursuing relationships with brands. The cost of music videos, much of which comes directly out of the pockets of artists, can be less severe if big companies pick up part of the tab. We can’t pretend to make sense of the catfights and faceless backup dancers in the video, but we do know that our gal Britney is no stranger to pushing products. Deals in the past have included Candies, Skechers and Pepsi.
Britney, who has already sold nearly 100 million records worldwide and whose first album’s 25 million sold still kicks the sales stuffing out of albums by today’s artists like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, looks to have done it again when it comes to striking branding gold… and to that we say “bottoms up!”