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11/10/2007 - par Mark Tungate

Have we entered the era of anti-product placement ? I mention this because I've noticed a mini-trend that involves characters in films making negative remarks about brands. It all started, of course, with 99 F - in which everybody from APC to Hugo Boss gets the treatment. Not to mention the famous ­« Madone ». I can't wait for the sequel, in which Octave gets a job scouting for under­age Russian models for the cosmetics brand « L'Idéal ».

I might have dismissed this as a French thing - after all, we live in the land of the publiphobes - until I saw a movie called Shoot'Em Up. Yes, yes - I know it's a terrible film in which Clive Owen does nothing but shoot people, but what can I tell you ? It was the end of a long, hard day, and I needed some gratuitous violence. Halfway through the movie, Owen's character steals a BMW. « Do you know what the difference is between this car and a suppository ? » he asks his companion, Monica Bellucci. « With the car, the arseholes are on the inside. » What makes this doubly amusing is that Clive Owen was the star of one of the most successful advertising campaigns in BMW's history - the online movie series, The Hire.

Can brands protect themselves against this kind of slur ? Can they sue the movie, the writer, the actor ? Probably. Does that endear them to consumers ? No. In my view, they would be best advised to smile wearily and ignore the slur. After all, nobody likes people with no sense of ­humour.

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