When I’m Not Fighting Crime, I like the Smooth Taste of Colt .45

It looks like it won’t be long until comics are right up there with TV and film as vehicles for product placement. Both of the big publishers have signed deals with advertisers to have product appear within the panels. Like in TV, I don’t mind this as long as it’s not affecting story, or standing out too much.

Then I read this part: DC will have a new hero called The Rush drive a Pontiac that the publisher says is just as important to that character as the Aston Martin is to James Bond.

If you’re going to use comics to market to adults, fine, I can understand that. You’ll hook a lot more people on that than you will with Wolverine boxer shorts, but creating a new character who drives a Pontiac seems a little forced. Maybe if Alan Moore was writing it, it could have a chance.

Yet, my skepticism abounds.


  1. I am disappointed that this story has nothing to do with Lando.

  2. Hey, I know it will never bring the price down, per se, but if it can cut down on page ads, keep prices level, and maybe even make 48,64, or 80 pagers cheaper, I’m all for it.

    I mean geez. I can handle Jimmy Olsen popping open a Pepsi instead of a Soder Cola. Or maybe have a Cola Wars thing between Pepsi and Soder! Ha! And Lois has to report. So all throughout the DCU, right in the middle of a big fight, Lois steps in with a table, two cups, and a blindfold.

    Sounds golden to me.

  3. I think this isn’t a way to make reading more enjoyable, ie, less ads, but rather a way to make comics more profitable. I think, if anything, comics will get more cluttered as time goes on.

    But I’m a cynic.

  4. Ugh. This is the worst idea yet. It’s distracting and tacky, just like selling screen time during movies.

    Nothing’s safe. Eff Consumerism.

  5. It doesn’t really bother me all that much, so long as it doesn’t detract from the story. As Joe Q said in his latest Friday column, it was being done anyway, the comics might as well get paid for it. Having a character drinking a can of coke in a comic book isn’t ruining it, so long as they don’t say something like “Mmm this coke is refreshing and thirst quenching. Its provides me with the energy that I need to fight crime!”

  6. shades of TRUMAN SHOW product endorsements. Spider-Man will have criminals hanging from billboards for product placement. Mary Jane will discuss how clean and bright the Spidey uniform is from using colorsafe CHEER. Kitty Pryde can drink Triple Venti Non-Fat Lattes at STARBUCKS while bemoaning her relationship with Colossus (in the MU) or Spider-Man (in the Ultimate U).

  7. Well, look at Tivo and DVR stuff. Thanks to that, television commercials aren’t hitting their targets anymore. Most people who Tivo or DVR a show skip through the commercials. Satelite radio — no commercials. So, the advertising people have to find a mew medium.

    I understand the anti-corperate bent and anti-consumerism, but that’s the world we live in. If companies like Marvel and DC didn’t subsidize their costs with advertising, we’d be paying a whole lot more for a whole lot less in comics.

    I personally wouldn’t mind seeing TV and even comics move to the golden age/silver age of TV advertising — naturally incorperating the products into the flow of the story. Not over the top, like saying, “Mmmmm, this Coke is really helping my webslinging.” But having Peter and MJ in their apartment drinking coke.

    I’m cool with it. I’m even cool with there being something like a modified Chrystler something or other to be the batmobile.

    Who knows?

  8. I don’t think that this is a good idea at all. I don’t know how advertising works exactly. If Coke is paying Marvel, then I imagine that it puts Marvel under some obligation to put an ad in their comics. Does that mean that while Spider-man is in SHEILD HQ trying to figure out a way to defeat the Collective is he going to ask an agent to go and get him a refreshing can of Coke?

    I have no problem with them replacing generic “soda” cans with Coke or Pepsi or whatever they want. That can of Dr. Pepper that Peter webs in the first Spider-man movie did not lead me to drink more of that stuff.

    I don’t like this idea at all. Nope. Not one iota.

  9. I believe we’ve reached polar opposite opinions here. Please…continue.

    I think that if the placement is innocuous, subconcious even, no one would care, but as soon as it’s mentioned, and a point is made of it being there, that’s when most readers will draw the line.

    You’re right about Tivo, and TV will have to rethink how it does things, but that’s their problem, because at this point, I don’t think there’s any going back. But yes, I understand that someone has to pay for TV to get made, and we can’t have everything for free, but still, there’s a limit before people move on to something else.

    Same with comics. If this annoys readers, they’ll see it in the numbers. On the other hand, it is nice to see people advertising to adults taking this medium seriously. Because it certainly is valid.

  10. If it’s stuff like this:


    No big deal.

    Personally, I’ve always found it more distracting in movies, TV shows and comics when characters pick up a can of SODA rather than a brand. I don’t know why. I’d rather they just use the real brands.

    If it starts encroaching on the story, then that’s something else altogether.

  11. I agree. I’m thinking that it will be very subtle and very inconspicuous. I really do not think that scenarios like this will happen:

    FURY: Gee, Spidey, all this flip-flopping between sides in the Civil War must be tiring. Why don’t you take a seat and have a nice, refreshing DIET PEPSI?

    SPIDEY: Thanks, Nick. You know, this stuff is light, crisp and refreshing. Oh, and I’ve always wondered, how did you ever quit smoking those cigars ?

    FURY: Well, Pete, I used NICODERM CQ. It was a patch I could use to step-down to smaller and smaller doses until I just didn’t need it anymore. I also chewed TRIDENT gum when I had to put something in my mouth.

    And so on and so on.

    I’m sure management and those folks wouldn’t mind, but the artists, writers and so on — I don’t think, anyway — would even do anything like that.

    And, Josh, I agree with you, in that their rethinking of things is their own problem. I think that’s when advertisers get creative. I’m all for it, like I described.

  12. I agree with Conor. If it’s done right then it’s not distracting at all. I am more distracted by the bag of Lay’s potato chips with the label covered up than I am if they use the real brand.

    I can honestly say that in many cases I read about movies and shows with 100’s of product placements and I won’t recall a single one. I mean in a real life situation you should see Pepsi, McDonalds, Nike, etc. The only example I can recall of it sticking out to me was when Halle Barry drove one of the 10 ford Tunderbirds sold in the world in “Die Another Day”, that did stand out. If it had to be a Ford, why not a Mustang? Heck they probably only made the $150,000 GT so Bond’s next American sidekick can drive something cool…

    I wouldnt mind seeing Spidey swinging through a true Times Square with all the ads going, it might look cool.

  13. Well, how do you think it’s going to work? Do you think that Coke is going to say, “If you can fit it in the story, that’s great. If not, well, just take our advertising dollars anyways.”

    The artists are going to have to cowtail to editors in order to put products in the panels. I’m sure the ad agreement will have a certain quota in it and then the artists will be forced to show and draw things that can (and in my opinion WILL) detract from the integrity of the art.

    It’ll never just be, oh, now Peter is sitting in the living room having a soda, I’ll think of it as “Well, we have an agreement with Coke so we have to have a panel in which Peter is drinking one. Maybe we could put him in a food court…”

    And what about story lines like Daredevil. I don’t read it, but I listened to enough podcasts to know he’s in jail. How you going to sneak product placement into that?

    It’s just a horrible idea. I have no problem with it when it’s natural, but the thing is that it’s NEVER natural. Not even in the movies because there’s always focus drawn to it. No thanks. Horrible idea.

  14. Exactly my point and I apologize if I was not clear. This is going to eventually have an effect on the direction that stories take. Ads are going to detract from the story and eventually destroy any possibility for mainstream comics to have artist value.

    I am curious, who do you think came up with this idea? As far as putting product placement into comics. Who at the publishers thought this was a good idea? Who do you you think, if anyone, would have opposed this? What authority do you think Joe Quesada would have over making a decision to put ads into comics? Does he have any influence on something like this or would it be someone at a higher level than he?

  15. I can see your points, however have you noticed it on TV shows? They all have these agreements. I can see concerns, but hopefully it will be more like ‘DC will have X cans of Coke in titles with circulations totaling 100,000 a month’. So they can put it in Superman, GL, etc one month or others the next month. That would help answer the Daredevil issue.

  16. I do notice it on television. Watch any television show with an intended teen demographic. Take Smallville, how does college freshmen Lana Lang afford to drive around in a Jeep Liberty? Lois drives one of those Pontiac GTO’s. Lexcorp labs are stocked with Macs, Alienware and Dell computers. Clark gets a new cell phone every sweeps month. Not to mention the horrible horrible pop music. Just horrible.

    Now on a show like Smallville that sort of thing is expected and I don’t have a problem with it at all. The maturity level of those plots is way down at the bottom of the scale. However, going back to recent discussions from this site, comics are in a period where the stories have risen to higher levels of maturity. Higher than they have ever been at before. I don’t see product placement working well in the more intellectual mainstream stories. Either it will be forced into these plots or there will be more mindless slugfest comics coming about. The Hulk will be dropping billboards with Coke and Pepsi ads on them on the Illuminati group for what they did to him. If there is more of the mindless stuff then there will be less of the intelligent stories.

    Am I wrong?

  17. Wouldn’t it be fantastically subversive to have Coke signed on to advertise in the comics, and then to have the Hulk just destroy some Guatemalan Coke factory?

    They should do that.



    Destroyed in an Avengers battle. Damn.

  18. Jamie, I see your point, but don’t you think that Coke would prefer that Wolverine be drinking coke in Xmen rather than Big Bertha in GLA? I’m sure they’ll have mandates on which titles they’re in. They’ll want the products front and center in books that are put out in high volume. Ultimates, Spiderman, Batman. Ugh. I’m starting to get sick.

    I hate to think what it’ll be like for the artists. They’re the ones that will really suffer as the editors will mandate them putting it in scenes and they’ll have to go back and draw it in.

    Comprimising integrity of the art.

  19. Well, we will have to see. Hopefully the publishers will show restraint and not let our worst fears come true. We’ll just wait and see. I think all points are valid.

  20. I agree with Jamie. Everyone has valid points. This could go a lot of ways, many of them bad, but not all of them.

    We really just have to wait and see how this pans out.

  21. “Wait and see,” yeah, that usually solves a problem.

    Restraint and capitalism do not go together.

    Ah well, they are just comic books. Just funny books, right?

  22. Actually, we have no choice but to wait and see. Then, vote with your dollar. If you don’t like, don’t buy. But it’s not as if we can storm the gates of their NY offices with outrage at something we haven’t even seen.

    But that’s the thing about capitalism that does work. If we don’t respond to it in dollars, they’ll stop.

    Normally the masses just lay down and take it, but there you go.

  23. I think people are forgetting that these companies don’t WANT their advertising to become annoying or it will have a negative effect. When an advertiser signs a deal with a comic book company they research into the medium and find the most effective way to promote the brand without annoying the reader – Having your favorite comic book hero drinking a can of Coke will put the brand in a positive light, but not interfere with the story in ANY way.

    Personally I prefer this kind of product placement to whole page advertisements that break up the story – advertising pages are far more invasive than any professional product placement deal will ever be.

  24. Personally I prefer this kind of product placement to whole page advertisements that break up the story – advertising pages are far more invasive than any professional product placement deal will ever be.

    Chris makes a good point, if it’s a choice between Peter Parker drinking a Coke and wearing Nikes or those annoying Wolverine (“Those are my boxers, bub!”) ads, I’ll take the Coke and the Nikes everytime.

    A world without intrusive comic book ads would be a beautiful world indeed.

  25. Wolverine’s boxers get no respect!

  26. A world without intrusive comic book ads would be a beautiful world indeed.

    And I love Image for it.

  27. I love trade paperbacks for it. But of course, you’ve got to pay for the privelege

  28. But TPBs are usually cheaper than buying the single issues individually. Not always, but usually. And Image monthlies cost the same as Marvel and DC books but keep all their ads in the back, as Chris said.

    Of course Image isn’t as dependent on ad revenue as the big 2, so maybe that isn’t strictly comparable, but it is still an interesting point.

  29. I will say this, from the number of posts, this is definitely a serious subject to a lot of us.

  30. (I’m back!! Miss me much?)

    First of all, Comic book ads, yes, are a pain the ass. Remember in House of M, there was a HUGE spread of one of the infamous ‘white flashes’, but on the other page DIRECTLY OPPOSITE FROM IT was an Ad. I think that was my first bad experience with ads

    Now, second, should we really get all worked up about these product placements? I mean, they exist in the normal world today…it wouldn’t be unfamiliar for Spidey to drink a coke on the street, or a New Mutant TEENAGER to wear a Nike swoosh on their shirt. I think it’s a welcome change, as long as it limits normal ad’s, and Spider-Man isn’t fighting Venom or something and goes “HOWDJA LIKE THAT KICK FROM MY NIKE SHOX SHOES?”

  31. I bet the trades have a higher profit margin than the issues. I mean, they’ve only got to send it to press once, instead or 6 of 12 times. Plus, their available venue is bigger, from bookstores, to Amazon, to whoever else. Issues of comics can only be sold in comic shops (apparently).

    Spidermav! Good to see you again!

  32. Merely from a printing, binding and materials cost standpoint, the individual comics should have the higher profit margin, but as you say, the number of print runs and distribution costs definitely could affect the margins to put it in favour of trades.

    Most marvel and DC books nowadays are written for the trade market – 1 to 3 issue arcs are a lot rarer now, with almost all arcs being pushed up to 5 or 6 issues. This has caused several stories to suffer; being padded out or crammed too tightly simply to fit the trade format more easily.

  33. Does it matter to anyone that this product placement thing is going to bring ads into trades when before they were free of them?

    Wolverine boxer ads have never bothered me. I have always been able to ignore that sort of advertising and it has never affected my ability to enjoy a comic book. However, I have never consciously bought a product based on advertising that I have seen in a comic book. So that advertising apparently isn’t very effective and I can understand companies wanting to find another way to sell their products. But I don’t have to like it.

    Is this going to lessen the amount of full page ads that already appear in our comics? Something tells me that probably won’t happen. I doubt there will be much of a price drop on comics and honestly as long as I like the series I don’t mind paying close to three dollars for an issue. So we will be getting more advertising, but nothing much in return.

    I understand that most mainstream/superhero comics are far from being able to be considered real art/literature. However, every age of comics makes these stories and characters more and more thought provoking. It is my fear that this practice will ruin that. I see this as going back to the days of Twinkie the Kid and a team-up with the Kool-Aid Man. If it were only replacing “Soda” with Coke and Pepsi then it wouldn’t be a problem at all, but I believe that once this sort of thing works its way into our favorite stories and characters it is going to become a corrupting influence. When that happens I will stop buying comic books.

  34. I’m with you Dave. I don’t even really bother looking at the ads in a comic book unless its to see if there’s story on that page. If there’s not, I turn the page.

    I never even pay attention to the ads. They’re outside the product. If you put them in the product, then I start to notice because they’re intrusive and they invade the comic.

    Joe Q talked about it in his Joe Friday’s interview column. He spit out the company line, “Not a big deal, won’t affect story, blah blah blah” but I have to call Bullshit on him. It will and I’m not happy about having to stare at it.

    This also strikes me as counter-productive for a media form that is trying to gain acceptance as art in the mainstream. It cheapens the final product, just like product placement does in movies.

  35. This also strikes me as counter-productive for a media form that is trying to gain acceptance as art in the mainstream. It cheapens the final product, just like product placement does in movies.

    Isn’t this counterintuitive? Product placement are all over mainstream media.

  36. Yeah, we’ve been dealing with it in movies for at least 25 years. Back to the Future is one of my favorite movies, and that thing is LADEN with product placement. Now it’s completely commonplace. I’m not saying I love that, but we have come to accept it, and overall, that is not generally the thing to make well made movies bad.

  37. I really feel like any movie that takes itself seriously as an art form generally doesn’t use product placement. Most of the product placement is used in summer action movies.

    It’s not often that you see it in art movies. Maybe that’s just my perception though…

  38. I hate to break it to you, but superhero comics are pretty much an equivalent to those summer action movies.

    No one’s talking about product placement in indy comics. They wouldn’t stand for it.

    I think you’ve got to make a distinction between “art” movies, and “indy” movies. If you’re making an independent movie, product placement is definitely a finance option, and a producer would be foolish to ignore it. It all just depends on the context.

    But still, I would say that Marvel and DC comics are, and want to be more so, forms of mass entertainment, which are however consumed by a niche audience, if that contradiction makes any sense.

  39. Maybe it’s just me but product placement doesn’t really bother me any more. I think the way it is handled in modern medium is subtle enough not to even consciously register.

    Was anyone’s enjoyment of the movie ‘Sin City’ spoiled by product placement? I certainly didn’t notice any. Yet Sin City had product placement deals with the following companies: AAA, American Express, Beretta, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Converse, Discover, Ferrari, Ford, Jaguar, Lincoln, MasterCard, Mercedes, Motorola, Pez, Porsche, Springfield Armory, Steyr, UZI and Zippo.

    As you can see, it’s quite a list.

    I think people are overreacting to what will be a very subtle and barely noticeable change to comics, if it is even noticeable at all.

  40. UZI! That’s hilarious! I think Snake-Eyes had a deal with them too.

    Excellent point Chris.

    I didn’t notice that in the movie, but afterwards, I felt a strong desire to go out and charge a gun and a car on my credit card while eating Pez.

  41. From the new Lying in the Gutters



    [Green Light]Take one article about Nike product placement in comics. Take one message board. Add Tony Harris.

    “If you want your comics just be quiet with all the belly aching. Jeezus. This is no different than ANY ad that has been placed in comics since the dawn of time. And guess what? AD REVENUE is what keeps comics going. NOT sales. There arent enough fans buying books to keep the industry going. Period. No argument. I have worked in the industry for 17 years. I know this to be true. I got in right at the tail end of the last BOOM. Then the bottom dropped out.”


    “BLIBBITY BLABBITY BLOO. I guess nobody read my post. Please READ it. Soak it in. Quit ignoring it so you can continue to bitch about NOTHING.”

    “What I said was NOT Opinion my fine fellow. It was FACT. Fact that I pitched the idea of Ad revenue for Machina, FACT that I got into the industry during the last BOOM, FACT that Ad Revenue constitutes almost ALL of the money that moves the industry forward.

    “And you know how I know this: Cause I work in that industry, and I am privy to a lot of things you arent. I simply stated that I thought it was another fluff piece that you guys use as an excuse to bitch. That seems to be the favorite thing to do on the internet nowadays. Bitch, Bitch, Bitch, Bitch, Bitch!!

    “You are such a bald faced liar. You absolutely would NOT under ANY circumstance call me or anyone else on earth a dick to thier face. Especially a pro at a comics event. You don’t have the stones. I wish you would though. Cause Im a 6 foot 2 inch country boy from the south. You’d get stomped. Sean Penn style.”

    Of course, LITG has been following the appearance of product placement over the years. And before the recent news articles, had been tracking some of the Nike logos appearing in Marvel comics. But at what stage are these agreed to?

    I asked “198” writer David Hine about the placement of a Nike logo in a recent Jim Muniz panel.

    Hine told me, “You’re right, that does look like product placement. The Nike sticker wasn’t there in the inked art that I saw, so it may have been inserted at production stage. I can’t speak for Jim Muniz, but I need hardly say that I do not personally endorse Nike products.”