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Upon entering a movie theater, my children are immediately lured by the rows of brightly colored candy, the lit-up slushy machines and the pungent smell of overbuttered popcorn. I am forced to think fast, and negotiate the terms of their snacking, “A slushy, but no candy. A small popcorn and a small soda, but no slushy. “ It hadn’t occurred to me that as my children munch on junk food, they will be seeing ads -- by way of product placement -- for more… junk food.
A new study, published in Pediatrics March, 2010 issue, found that movies are overrun with food and beverage product placement. Nearly 60% of the food placements are for candy, sugary or salty snacks and 75% of the beverage placements are for sugar-filled drinks. What’s more interesting about the study, is that these product placement practices were seen in one third of G-rated movies, more than half of PG movies and nearly three quarters of PG-13 flicks. The researchers aren’t sure just how persuasive the placements are, but if the 65% rise in sales of Reese’s Pieces after the release of E.T. is any indicator, I’d say they’re pretty powerful.