My children love chicken nuggets. So much that every we drive by the golden arches, the smiley red-headed girl with freckles, or the artistic outline of a rooster, they request we stop in for a visit. I’m a little embarrassed to admit they recognized these logos for these brands before they learned their names or any other pertinent information. Recently we visited Wendy’s®, my son’s current favorite. Like all great fast food, a toy or game accompany the children’s meal. At the moment Wendy’s is offering a host of toys and items with a Superman/Wonder Woman theme. So far Kay-Kay has collected a Superman glider, Wonder Woman’s invisible jet, and a copy of the Superman Wonder Woman comic book. Each night before bed, i read with the children. Last night, Kay-Kay wanted to read his comic book. I appreciate the quality of the artwork and continuation of the Justice League story. I have followed the animated series and find it to be very well done. What I wasn’t pleased with was some of the dialogue.
The focus of my ire is directed a scene where Brainiac blasts Superman with a photon ray or some weapon. Stunned, Superman falls to the ground, creating a huge crater in the street. He comes to moments later, awoken by two concerned children. In the midst of a battle where lives are at stake, Superman take the time to inquire about he nature of the toys the children are playing with. Did I just read that? Superman would never do such a thing, especially with lives on the line.
I realize that Wendy’s is the provider of this piece, but it made me think about product placement in general. There was a time when goods were seen and not heard. Even when cleverly positioned in the shot, or on top of Jerry’s refrigerator when George or Kramer came over to scrounge, but never mentioned in conversation, or becoming a part of the plot itself. Although i’m complaining about a kid’s meal, I fear society may be at a tipping point where marketing, story telling, and entertainment no longer have defined lanes.
Or maybe I’m just late to the party.