Accidental email brings product placement agency under fire

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jeff Crouse.
Image: Jeff Crouse Industries.

An email accidentally sent to Jeff Crouse of the Anti-Advertising Agency recently brought the controversial techniques of the advertising firm Kluger Agency under fire.

"I'm writing because we feel you may be a good company to participate in a brand integration campaign within the actual lyrics of one of the worlds most famous recording artists upcoming song/album," the email read, offering to place Jeff Crouse's fake brand, Double Happiness Jeans, into the songs of popular artists. It was posted on his blog along with a reply that mocked Kluger and brought ridicule and criticism against Adam Kugler and his agency. According to Crouse, Kluger emailed him once again to claim it had been an automated email, and later requested that Crouse remove the post and comments criticizing himself and his agency, threatening a $150,000 lawsuit against Crouse for defamation.

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Is the use of product placement in popular music degrading to the artists?

Kluger Agency is known for advertising brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Mercedes-Benz, and Nike by inserting the brand names in the songs of popular artists like Mariah Carey, Black Eyed Peas, Fall Out Boy, Pink, Lady GaGa and Ludacris. Kluger, founded in 2006, represents over 170 corporations and focuses on well-known record labels.

Kluger and his PR team have come forward defending the advertising techniques, stating that they do not have songs made just for the products in question and do not infringe on artistic integrity. "Now, we don't want an artist to write a song specifically to promote a brand, we just feel that if it's a product that's admired by the artist and fits his/her image, we now have the capability of leveling out the playing field and making things financially beneficial for all parties involved," he was quoted saying to Wired.

However, the agency's website shows video examples of its product placement, with brand images and names often being repeated, pointed at, praised, or being the basis of the song. The website also advertises that "a successful 'brand-dropping' campaign will imprint [the] brand name and product into your market's subconscious".

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