–Sharon Armstrong, Attorney

A while back I blogged about a show I do not watch, but which had clearly become part of the popular consciousness. Once again, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another popular culture phenomenon who warrants a mention on this blog just as much as that show on MTV.

I’m talking about Lady Gaga, the pop star who has battled—or courted—controversy whatever she wears or whatever she says. However you feel about the singer, whom many have compared to Madonna due to her savvy exploitation of fashion and image, one of the indisputably fascinating things about her is her latest video for the song “Telephone,” featuring fellow pop star Beyonce and, according to Advertising Age, “nine famous brands,” including Miracle Whip, Diet Coke, and Virgin Mobile.

Product placement has always been big business, and being in the right place at the right time is essential for entertainers and famous brands to build off of one another and create an image or campaign that is greater than the sum of its parts. As the New York Times recently reported, “The cost of movies is going up…right now, it’s not just [about] selling the script…but showing them how to create a brand.”

But, as Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” video shows, while product placement is certainly about making money, it’s also part of telling a story—the story of the movie (or video) and the story of the brands featured within the movie. The question is, do these stories ultimately enhance or detract from one another? Check out the “clean version” of “Telephone” here, and let us know what you think of product placement. (Also, check out the Advertising Age article to find out which brands paid for placement, and which did not.)