As seen on screen

By Raymond Zhou ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-06-26 07:28:53

As seen on screen

Chinese actress Li Bingbing plays Su Yueming in the film from Paramount Pictures. Photo provided to China Daily

As seen on screen
'Transformers: Age of Extinction' debuts in Beijing
As seen on screen
Chinese sponsor demands changes to 'Transformers 4' film
When it comes to product placement in movies, Chinese director Feng Xiaogang is the pioneer and still the benchmark. His comedy If You Are the One attracted so many deals that it was rumored to have made its investment back without selling a single ticket. However, Feng was criticized for taking on products that did not fit with the scenes surrounding them. Later, it was revealed that Feng had resisted some of the deals, even smashing the set for one scene where he was supposed to display a certain brand more prominently than he deemed appropriate (yet was ordained by the contract).

However, Bay does not seem to face such a dilemma. The Shuhua Milk that popped up in Transformers 3 was so out of place it elicited a wave of laughs in Chinese theaters. Instead of hating the practice as they claimed, Chinese audiences seem to derive pleasure from spotting Chinese brands. We have yet to hear reports that Bay turns down deals because they do not fit into the storyline.

In the fourth installment there are even more Chinese brands, and Shuhua Milk is consumed very conspicuously in one scene. Considering that it is not even sold outside China, it could mean the advertiser was paying for global exposure that is essentially wasted. I'm curious as to what audience members in other countries think of this glut of product placement. In China, there were calls from some to show Feng's placement-rich films free of charge since "we have to endure so many ads". Now, talk about ads is not even followed up with purchase-ready products.

The dragon-headed Pangu building, frequently featured in the background of shots of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, does indeed appear in Transformers: Age of Extinction. The issue raised by Pangu in its statement concerns pledges to hold the movie premiere on its premise, which was instead held in Hong Kong, a city that was the location for some scenes as part of another deal, and an exhibition of some film-related props and equipment, among others.

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