‘Jurassic World’ shows just how weird product placement has become

When the dino hunters of “Jurassic World” race into action, they don’t just use any car: They roar into the jungle aboard Mercedes-Benz G-Class luxury SUVs. And when the park’s doomed vacationers get chomped, moviegoers know exactly what kinds of Starbucks, Brookstone and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville treats they’ve left behind.

When “Jurassic Park” hit theaters in 1993, it instantly became famous for its dozens of product tie-ins, the camera lingering on logos for Ford Explorers, Jeep Wranglers, Nikon cameras and Jolt Cola.

But the blockbuster’s latest sequel opening today, the $150 million “Jurassic World,” shows just how much product placement has evolved, both as a consistent moneymaker for film executives — and a cringe-worthy fact of life for the theater-going crowd.
Trailer: ‘Jurassic World'(2:32)
Steven Spielberg returns to executive produce the long-awaited next installment of his groundbreaking “Jurassic Park” series, “Jurassic World.” Colin Trevorrow directs the epic action-adventure from a screenplay he wrote with Derek Connolly. (Universal Pictures)

The movie’s corporate tie-ins are relentless: Kids ignore their parents while immersed in Beats by Dre headphones. Parkgoers can be seen swilling Starbucks, and the velociraptor trainer played by Chris Pratt takes a big, refreshing gulp of Coca-Cola.

A Jurassic World visitor’s pamphlet used as a movie prop is loaded with logos for FedEx Office, Coke, Starbucks and Samsung — the latter of which has its logo on every phone, tablet and TV, as well as the park’s “Samsung Innovation Center.”

The dinosaur park’s main shopping center includes a Pandora, the charm-jewelry store, and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, the parrothead-themed restaurant. When Pratt’s character races alongside velociraptors, he does so on his Triumph Scrambler, a new model made by the U.K.’s biggest motorcycle maker.

“Hey, people of Triumph, can I have this motorcycle, please?” Pratt asked in a behind-the-scenes “featurette.” Spoiler alert: He gets one.

[Review: ‘Jurassic World’ ups the ante, with mixed success]

Many of the tie-ins become meta movie tie-ins: A film joking about product placement while still reaping the corporate cash. In the movie, the dinosaur park is strapped for funding and takes on corporate sponsors: Its star dinosaur exhibit becomes “Verizon Wireless Presents The Indominus Rex.” A side character jokes they should have gone even further, naming a dinosaur “Pepsi-saurus.”

The script, as Chicago Tribune reviewer Michael Phillips wrote, “makes a tentative stab or two at rampant product placement early on, before getting down to the business of delivering rampant product placement.”

The gaudiest tie-in comes through the movie’s deal with Mercedes-Benz, whose G-Class SUV, Sprinter van and six-wheeled G-Wagen play leading parts, transporting dino-hunting troopers and conquering the jungle’s rough roads. The German automaker’s monstrous Unimog, only available outside the United States, also serves as a wheeled veterinary unit for wounded dinosaurs.

In the movie, Pratt’s Owen asks Claire, the steely operations manager played by Bryce Dallas Howard, if she wants to “see something cool,” before Benz’s new GLE Coupe pulls onto the screen, logo first. In her New York Times review, Manohla Dargis wrote, “There are so many plugs for Mercedes that you may wonder if the targeted viewers are studio executives.”

[‘I enjoyed the whole absurdity of it’: Paleontologists review ‘Jurassic World.’]

So it would not spoil the GLE Coupe’s summer 2015 launch, Mercedes said it worked the SUV secretly into the filmmaking process a year and a half ago: “The security measures on set were huge,” the carmaker said, so it could “be shielded from eager photographers.”

In Mercedes-Benz promotional materials for the coupe, which the automaker called “strong in every terrain,” movie producer Frank Marshall is quoted as saying, “Unveiling the new GLE Coupé in Jurassic World was a natural fit as we continue our relationship with Mercedes.”

Mercedes posted a making-of video in which the movie’s stars fawn over the new coupe: “Oh, it’s beautiful,” Howard exclaims, before Pratt shouts, “Yeah! Look at that thing.”

“Jurassic World is an upscale theme park, so we wanted one of the most upscale auto manufacturers to be involved in it,” movie producer Pat Crowley said. “It really adds to the storytelling,” another executive adds. (The six-wheeler has also been made into a remote-controlled toy.)

Mercedes-Benz has tied its luxury autos to dinosaur movies ever since its outfitted M-Class SUVs whisked adventurers through the 1997 sequel, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.”

But it has rarely wielded such influence on the production even after the film is over. The movie’s premiere in Hollywood on Tuesday was sponsored by Mercedes, with the actors spilling onto the red carpet from a red Mercedes GLE Coupe, then gliding into the theater past a themed Mercedes G-Class SUV.

But Mercedes was not alone in drawing out its corporate deal. At the Hollywood premiere’s after-party, Pratt was ushered onto stage alongside Jimmy Buffett to sing — could you guess? — “Margaritaville.” “This is totally impromptu. I did not know this was gonna happen,” Pratt said.

Chris Pratt and Jimmy Buffett, in the white jacket, perform “Margaritaville” at the after-party for the premiere of “Jurassic World” in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The song is also the name of a chain restaurant seen in the movie, which you can also go to, called “Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.” (Matt Sayles/Invision via AP)

Some companies have pushed to extend their corporate tie-in from the first film, like Barbasol shaving cream, a can of which was used to smuggle dinosaur embryos.

Barbasol’s inclusion was mostly a fluke — the movie’s art director, John Bell, said he grabbed it off a prop shelf with little thought; in the book, smugglers used Gillette — but the shaving-cream maker now calls it one of its biggest victories: John Price, a marketing vice president for parent company Perio, called it “one of the most recognized brand integrations of all time.”

The company has now embarked on a “fully integrated marketing program” taking victory laps on Twitter, launching consumer sweepstakes at www.capturethecan.com, airing a national TV-ad blitz and even selling limited-edition “collector” cans with dinosaurs on the side. For the commercial, in which the can is seen in a puddle, a studio trucked in 1,000 gallons of water and 2,000 pounds of stones for the 36-hour shoot.

Product placement has become so fundamental to how film and TV studios and distributors make money that corporate tie-ins are more the rule than the exception. But “Jurassic Park” was a big engine for corporate tie-ins, largely due to its leadership by Steven Spielberg, a master of the craft: Remember Reese’s Pieces in “E.T.”?

Here’s what happened in payments this week

HERE’S WHAT’S GOING ON WITH SAMSUNG PAY: In our last mobile payments report we argued that Samsung Pay would be a significant driver of in-store mobile payments adoption in the US. That’s because it can be used to make payments at existing magnetic stripe terminals as well as EMV and NFC-capable terminals.

Not long after the publication of our report a blog post came out claiming that Samsung Pay would fail in the US. The argument has two major points, which we have drawn out through emails with the author of the post:

  • Samsung Pay will not be able to use NFC if the feature relies on a software-based Secure Element. Samsung plans to store payment tokens in the Trusted Executable Environment (TEE) on Samsung phones. The terms of Android M give Google control over permissions for TEE. Samsung Pay and Android Pay are competing for the same space and Google will push out Samsung Pay.
  • Samsung Pay will not come preloaded on phones offered through the top three US carriers because they determine what is preloaded on the phones they sell. They entered into a partnership with Google when Google acquired Softcard and so they will not allow Samsung Pay to be preloaded, since the two payment features are competitors.

We contacted a number of people familiar with the matter within and outside of Samsung and based on the answers we received we’ve concluded that the assumptions behind the argument in the blog are inaccurate.

  • Samsung Pay will be NFC-capable in the US and will use HCE (see report) with secure storage for tokens within the TEE on Samsung phones. Google will not manage permissions for TEE for Samsung phones using Android M.
  •  3 of 4 major US carriers have already agreed to preload Samsung Pay on Samsung phones.

In fact, Will Graylin, Global Co-GM of Samsung Pay and CEO of LoopPay, went on to publically address these issues in a response to the blog post (see comment section).

Samsung Pay’s major advantage over Android Pay is ubiquity of acceptance. That ubiquity will be a key driver of habitual usage if Samsung can get people to load their payment data into the app. But it’s a big if. We expect that Samsung will make a significant effort to push adoption following the launch of the feature.

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NEW DETAILS ON APPLE PAY FROM WWDC15: At its 2015 World Wide Developer Conference Apple revealed new details about its plans to develop Apple Pay and the product’s success thus far:

  • Apple Pay will be accepted at 1 million US locations by next month — four times the amount at launch.What constitutes a location is unclear, however. Hundreds of thousands of vending machines are likely included in this statistic. As a point of reference, there are roughly 1.6 million retailer locations among US businesses with a payroll, according to the US Census Bureau. By most accounts, only a handful of those business have adopted the NFC payment terminals Apple Pay requires. Some of the brands currently accepting Apple Pay are included in the graphic below.
  • iOS 9 will allow Apple Pay users to load store, rewards, and loyalty cards. When a user holds their phone to a reader in a store, Apple Pay will automatically bring up the appropriate card so that points can be applied before the transaction takes place.
  • Apple Pay is coming to the UK in July. At launch over 250,000 locations will be able to accept Apple Pay and by fall 70% of credit and debit cards will be compatible with the feature.
  • Apple’s digital wallet Passbook is being rebranded as “Wallet.”

Perhaps the most significant of these announcements is the reward and loyalty card experience. While Apple Pay has a good user experience, the user experience of plastic cards isn’t really a pain point for consumers. Apple also boasts a cutting-edge security framework, but the advantages are not easily communicable to consumers. That leaves the question of why someone would adopt Apple Pay. We think that rewards, offers, and points are a big part of the answer to that question. This functionality will help users save money and find deals more effectively because Apple Pay will automatically bring up the appropriate card. This overcomes two pain points: having to carry multiple rewards cards and remembering to use them.

Apple Pay Brands

VERIFONE SAYS MPOS IS CATCHING ON WITH LARGE BUSINESSES: Demand among medium- to large-sized businesses for mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) devices is growing, according to terminal manufacturer VeriFone’s second quarter earnings call. During the first half of 2015, orders of mPOS devices tripled VeriFone’s total orders over last year.

mPOS devices usually use a card reader that is plugged into a smartphone or a tablet. Growing adoption is partly due to a move by this retail segment to engage, upsell, and manage inventory, says VeriFone CEO Paul Galant.

  • Many mPOS devices are portable. This means the devices can be brought to customers within the store for price checks and line-busting.
  • One of the advantages of using mobile operating systems for mPOS devices is that the devices can integrate third-party apps that provide front- and back-office functions. In terms of front-office functions, merchants can opt to use loyalty and marketing apps to push offers to customers’ devices. Other apps serve back-office functions like keeping track of inventory.

Clothing retailer Chico’s is in the process of integrating VeriFone’s E Series mobile terminals at its 1,550 US and Canada locations, according to Galant. Specialty retailer J. Crew has also signed a contract to implement E-Series devices.

PINTEREST TAPS BRAINTREE FOR SOCIAL COMMERCE: Social media site Pinterest allows users to post or “pin” images to a digital bulletin board. There is an obvious commerce opportunity for Pinterest in that many of the images users pin are of products that can be purchased. Pinterest is in the process of introducing “Buyable Pins.” These pins will include a buy button for the product displayed in the image. This will allow users not only to discover products that they want, but to buy them directly from the site. Pinterest has tapped PayPal-owned Braintree to process Buyable Pin transactions and to manage credit-card data so that it remains outside of Pinterest’s environment. Braintree has consistently signed deals with hot startups, particularly in the mobile realm. Braintree is an important success for PayPal, which faces many unknowns as it approaches its late-2015 spinoff from eBay and is seeing increasing competition from the likes of Visa and Apple.

Buyable Pin

FACEBOOK AND SHOPIFY EXPAND SOCIAL COMMERCE PARTNERSHIP: For the last year, Facebook has been testing its “Buy Button” in partnership with e-commerce platform provider Shopify. A select group of Shopify merchants have had the opportunity to add the button to promoted and organic posts on Facebook, allowing Facebook users to buy items as they see them advertised in their Newsfeeds. Shopify announced yesterday that it will further expand the group of its merchants that can use the feature, referring to this stage of the rollout as a “beta test.”

What many of these social media companies intend to do is to create ‘walled gardens’ within the open internet — meaning that they will enact significant control over the content consumption of the people using their platforms. The advantage that some users may find in this approach is that content is curated according to the users’ tastes. It could also mean that customers discover products that they would like to buy more quickly and in greater volumes, which will benefit merchants.

If social commerce does take off with consumers it would have significant implications for gateway providers and processors. That’s because the social commerce experience aggregates sales across many different merchants to one platform. Instead of having to win the business of many different e-commerce companies, processors and gateways could gain significant volume by targeting a handful of social media companies.

MASTERCARD BATTLES BITCOIN: MasterCard is lobbying the UK government for increased regulation on Bitcoin companies, according to a letter to the UK Treasury obtained by CoinDesk. In the letter MasterCard argues that in comparison to its own network, transactions made through the Bitcoin network take longer to process, are more susceptible to hacks, and are only less expensive for merchants because the Bitcoin network doesn’t face the same regulatory burden. On one hand, all three of MasterCard’s points are valid. However, the Bitcoin network is not a systemically important network — from the standpoint of consumer protection, it’s less important that Bitcoin face the same regulations as other larger networks at this point. The Bitcoin network is also nascent and many of the flaws that it faces today will likely be overcome if it’s not stifled by regualtion. Finally, it could be argued the MasterCard intends to create a barrier to entry for competing networks through regulation — but the purpose of regulation is to protect consumers, not the competitive advantage of corporations. In May 2014, we previously reported on MasterCard’s US lobbying efforts with respect to Bitcoin.

Jurassic World: Brands vie with dinosaurs for your attention

There is more to the revival of the dino era in Universal’s Jurassic World than just the Indominus Rex. To avert the disaster folks in charge, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, need some help and that help must come from the popular brands of our time.

Product placement has now become an inevitable part of movie business. When you invest millions in a movie you obviously do not want any losses. If you are a brand, you absolutely want to milk every single opportunity where you can remind customers of your omnipresence. Brands and Universal join hands to do the same.

Released on June 12, Jurassic World is no exception to the now mandatory rule. If James Bond has a long lasting relationship with Aston Martin, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing need their Mercedes SUV to run away from Indominus Rex. It’s not just Mercedes, there are quite a few brands one just cannot miss amid the chaos of men and beasts. Here is a list of a few brands which are hard to miss –

Mercedes – There are gyrospheres if you are there to enjoy some time with the ever so calm herbivores going about their business. But if you are running the business or in need of running away from literal trouble, Merc is there to serve you. Jurassic World features from brand new GLE Coupe to the exclusive Unimog which serves as veterinary unit for wounded dinosaurs.

Triumph Motorcycle – Chris Pratt with that bod, stare, sass and leather jacket, needs something that will underline his status as hero of the movie. Nothing says it better than a rugged Triumph bike. Come on, it’s not easy to keep up with the velociraptors!

Beats by Dre – These headsets are becoming a defining characteristic of the aloof protagonist who does not want to be bothered at all. We saw these headphones more recently when Dr. Bruce Banner used it to keep ‘the big guy’ calm in Avengers: Age of Ultron. In Jurassic World we see them on Zach (Nick Robinson) who is trying to ignore the inevitable divorce of his parents.

Starbucks – Claire Dearing is a busy girl and caffeine in her system keeps her running. To get her caffeine fix, the lady turns to Starbucks.

Coca-Cola – The island is near the tropics. After sweating it out with velociraptors in the training bay, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) needs a swig of the famous cola brand just as much as the audience must know what he is drinking.

Pepsi – If Coca-Cola is featured in the hands of one of the leads, it is obvious if they take a dig at arch enemy by trying to name one of the dinosaurs Pepsisaurus!

Samsung – If you want to communicate in the Jurassic World there is no option but turn to Samsung. TV, Tabs, Mobile phones, wearables are all by tech giant. Heck, the information centre of the park is named after Samsung!

(Who’s spotted who? Screenshot from Jurassic World trailer)

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon – People are brands too. Jimmy Fallon is your guide in the gyropshere. Fallon, with his brand of comedy, tells you the functions and the safety measure of the gyrosphere, which looks like a pretty cool way of transportation!

Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville – As the Pteranodon attack the people in the park, you see a guy running to save his drink, instead of running away from the creatures. That’s Jimmy Buffett. American singer-songwriter and proud owner of Margaritaville Cafe which features for a slight second and serves as one of the food joints at the park.

Check out the new phones of Week 24

Gionee Elife E8                                           Gionee Marathon M5                                     Samsung Galaxy S6 active                                     Oppo Neo 5 (2015)

 

Don’t let the small number of newly announced phones this week fool you. Few as they may be, the new releases have a lot to grab your attention.

Perhaps the most interesting among this week’s launches is the Gionee Elife E8. The Chinese company’s latest and greatest is a true flagship with a 6-inch QHD screen and a Mediatek Helio X10 inside.

But it’s the camera that gets the headlines with a 24MP sensor, optical image stabilization, and phase detection autofocus. If that’s not enough to keep you interested, the 120MP mode might do it. It’s just that it may come a bit pricey at CNY 3,999 ($675) but we’ll let the market decide.

Gionee’s Marathon M5 costs a bit more than half that and comes with a 5.5-inch display and midrange specs. But wait, there’s more. It has a couple of batteries for a total of 6,020mAh, fast parallel charging and software power optimizations, resulting in a 4-day battery life, at least by Gionee’s claims.

If you liked the Galaxy S6 but it wasn’t tough enough for your outdoor lifestyle, you now have the Galaxy S6 active to bring with you while kayaking. Yes, it does have IP68 and MIL-STD-810G certifications for protection against the elements, but it’s not all. To sweeten the deal, Samsung has fitted the Galaxy S6 active with a 3,500mAh battery, close to 1,000mAh more than the regular S6.

Meanwhile, Oppo has announced the Neo 5 (2015), an affordable 4.5-inch phone without much bells and whistles. It has all the basic stuff covered, with a quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and an 8MP/2MP camera duo. The Neo 5 (2015) does borrow a touch of premium from more expensive company models though, but only in terms of design.

Gadget Review: Samsung S6 Edge specifications, price in India

Samsung’s S6 Edge was launched to bring back the innovation quotient to the Korean company. The phone, which had drawn significant amount of research and development from Bengaluru, was introduced in March at a starting price of Rs.58,900. Here is the IANS review of the S6 Edge:

Design: Called Project Zero at the beginning of its life cycle, the Edge takes innovation to the next level by introducing interactive screens (extension of the same display) at the edge of a smartphone. The body is a mix of Corning Gorilla Glass 4 (back and front panel) and AI 6013 (a aluminium alloy use in aerospace industry).Other notable change is the nano-SIM tray which is at the top, an integrated fingerprint reader at the home button and a heart rate sensor right beneath the flash on the rear. The phone doesn’t have a removable battery and there is no room for a microSD card slot.
Display: The Edge ships with a 5.1inch Quad HD(2560×1440 resolution) Super AMOLED display with a pixel density of 577. Images are super sharp, bright and differentiates at least 16.7 million colours perfectly.
Camera: The smartphone has top class camera to say the least. The combo of a premium wide-angle 16MP shooter and a front wide-angle 5MP camera makes it a must-have device if the user is a photography or selfie lover. Low light photography is excellent along with sharper colour contrasts. But the X-factor of the camera is the effects, filters and a post-shoot editing software. There are options of selective focus, virtual shot, Pro mode, slow motion, fast motion, panoroma and other modes which can be downloaded from the Galaxy app store.
Hardware and Performance: The Edge sports a Samsung’s in-house Exynos 7420 SoC that has four 1.5GHz ARM Cortex-A53 processor cores and four 2.1GHz ARM Cortex A-57 cores along with integrated Mali-T760MP8 graphics. The Edge is backed by a 3GB DDR4 RAM and runs the latest Lollipop update.
Coming to the performance, the Edge processor beats them all even the latest 810 Snapdragon processor according to GeekBench scores. The GPU is 400 percent more energy efficient than its predecessors and will allow the user to enjoy a premium gaming experience combined with the quadHD display.
Operating System and user interface: Samsung has been very wary of the software it wanted to use in the S6 series. It has done away with most of the clutter that consumers complained about.Interestingly, Samsung has added a Microsoft apps suite.
Storage, connectivity and battery: This is where Samsung has changed its game. There are no micro-SD slots and the phone comes with 32/64/128 GB internal memory options. The device uses a nano-SIM. There are options for NFC, Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi, GPS and infrared. The Edge comes with a 2,600mAH battery which can pull off one day on a single charge.
Verdict: The latest Samsung smartphone certainly has an edge. From our side if one can afford it, its’s buy call.

Samsung Z1 sales cross 500,000 mark in India

As per the report, the company has sold over 500,000 units of the device in India since launch, which happened back in January this year. Aside from India, the handset is also available in Bangladesh, where it has captured 23.4% of the smartphone market.

Riding high on the success of the Z1, Samsung is gearing up to unveil another Tizen-powered smartphone (possibly the Z2), which will be launched in Russia, China, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka, the report notes.