February 20, 2006
Is It Product Placement?

Leave it to Pixar...The creative computer animation company now housed in the Disney family caught my eye with some of their shots for their upcoming film Cars, starring such creative forces as Paul Newman, Owen Wilson and...Larry The Cable Guy.

What caught my eye in particular was a detail that borders somewhere between parody and product placement. The situation got me thinking about what IS product placement...

The Pixar car has written across the tires "Lightyear" in the same font and placement as Goodyear Tires. For those familiar with Pixar's history, you will know that the "Lightyear" is a reference to the first Pixar film, Toy Story, in which one of the primary characters was named Buzz Lightyear.

The detail shows Pixar's creativity in every corner of their work, but it also bolsters the idea that Goodyear is the big name in tires...When can parody be product placement? Would a company be able to get a company to shell money out to parody its name in this fashion, when no direct product is even placed in the picture?