More on Ads and Entertainment Content: When is a song just a song?

When we consider the integration of advertisements with entertainment content, we usually think of painfully transparent product placement—of Paula Abdul sipping from Coca Cola merchandise during American Idol. The insertion of branded goods into television programs often feels forced—as something highlighting rather than destabilizing the distinction between advertising and actual entertainment content. But the advertisement of a good with inherent entertainment value—such as music—presents a more naturalistic application of the technique.

Apple produced a commercial featuring the song “Lose Yourself” by Eminem for the rapper’s best hits album, “Curtain Call.” The work certainly functioned as an ad in that it caused sales of the promoted good to increase, but it also functioned effectively as ‘entertainment content’ by being consumed and enjoyed by audiences. Evidence of this is the popularity of the clip on YouTube—the commercial has been viewed 70,449 times as of November 2011. YouTube user TomateFarcie posted a revealing comment, writing, “I love this piece! That’s what I call a great iPod commercial. Eminem used to do great stuff before he became commercial…”

It is incredibly ironic that the product of a national advertising partnership with a major multinational corporation is being characterized by some viewers as a “[non-]commercial” artistic work (particularly signified by TomateFarcie’s use of the term, ‘piece’). The statement is testament to the degree to which the (already fluid) line between advertising, art and entertainment is becoming even more blurred.

– Nima Hassan