‘Sex and the City’ goes PC. Compatible?

The second installation of HBO’s hit cable-series turned movie mega-franchise, Sex and the City (STC), is being released May 27th, armed with a closetful of brand sponsorships that are as colorful as the 10 odd million spent on wardrobe. Fans of STC have grown accustomed to seeing Carrie Bradshaw, along with cohorts––Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte––gallivant all around Manhattan in the finest of head-to-toe couture as they complete the most tedious or extravagant of tasks. Throughout all 94 of the STC’s episodes and its first movie, we watched our heroine, Carrie, not only rationalize a constant need for the likes of Blahniks, but work out many a twisted relationship quandary on her stoic Apple Mac. Carrie Bradshaw made Manolo Blahniks, Macs and pink Cosmopolitans, all synonymous with household musts. So to see Skyy Vodka, Mercedes Benz, Moet Champagne, and Swarovski in the lineup of marketing partners fits, just like her Blahniks. But HP?

Working off a strategy initiated in 2008 with Vivienne Tam to position its digital clutch as the ultimate tech accessory for “fashionistas around the globe,” Hewlett-Packard smartly stepped in to partner with the STC2 movie so its laptops and computers would be prominently displayed. Although a brilliant play by HP to move to own a technology category for a blockbuster hit, an exposure that Apple had been previously gifted with for no fee––isn’t it unrealistic to have us believe that Carrie Bradshaw actually ditches a Mac to work with a PC? After all these years, isn’t that the equivalent of her ditching the Blahniks for something from, say… Nine West?

Here within lies the old-age argument of product placement: to be organic or blatant? True to the material or a bigger bottom line?  According to the New York Post every aspect of Carrie’s life is reduced to a vignette that can be monetized: Going to the Gym (sip on Lipton Sparkling diet green tea, an official sponsor of the new movie!), Having Cocktails with Girlfriends (try a specialized cocktail from Skyy, the movie’s “official vodka”!), Getting Married (Swarovski paid to be featured prominently in the film) and, of course, Working On Laptop, Staring Wistfully Out the Window (Hewlett Packard partnered with the movie so its laptops would be featured, and SJP will appear in the computer company’s ads, of course). As the New York Times put it in a recent blogpost, “What Next, the Official Salad Dressing?”

Although very much a character, losing the cameos of the Mac will not lessen any box-office appeal for STC2’s cult like following… we are very forgiving and will eat up almost anything Michael Patrick King can conjure up. The truth is that ‘brands’ need blockbuster vehicles like STC to propel their own positioning, no matter how cluttered the ad space may be. It’s no accident that Halston Heritage tags Sarah Jessica Parker at great cost to be their creative director prior to the movies release, resulting in HH clothing being featured in both the film and movie poster, just as it’s no accident that Sarah Jessica Parker herself, launches a 3rd perfume in honor of the film–SJP NYC, and so on. STC collective marketing efforts, just like its wardrobe and storylines, have gone over the top. Welcome to the next realm of advertising, or to put it as Popeater ponders through the very words of Carrie Bradshaw herself, “I couldn’t help but wonder, where’s the line between a film and an extended commercial?”

Filed: branding, entertainment, fashion

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