Jennifer Lopez’s Dinero music video: Product placement to the extreme

What struck me as over the top this time in her music video, however, was the level of product placement.

I have a confession to make: I’m a Jennifer Lopez fan. I don’t listen to her often, follow her career much, or really know that much about her. I usually have a very rational reason for liking someone, but JLo is just….entertaining. She’s so over-the-top so much of the time and I find it hilarious.

And she didn’t disappoint in her new music video for the song, Dinero. Walking an ostrich, roasting marshmallows over a fire made of cash, spray painting a luxury vehicle, etc. What struck me as over the top this time in her music video, however, was the level of product placement.

A breakdown of product placement in Dinero

(intentionally not linking these to product sites)

Mig Vapor e-cigarette – :28 (product use) :30 product use + hat

Jersey Mike’s Subs – 1:40

Lyft – 2:06-2:18, 5 times

Time magazine – 2:21

New York Yankees – 2:32. Although this might just be her fandom coming through. She is, after all, “Jenny from the Block.”

Jennifer Lopez in a mansion with high end clothing on, but has a Jersey Mikes sub in her hand.
Copyright Disclaimer: Screenshots are used in this post under fair use for the purposes of education, satire, and parody, consistent with 17 USC §107. Manipulated screenshots are considered derivative work and are Copyright © Nicole Finkbeiner, openly-licensed under CC-BY 4.0.

Of course, this is just the obvious. She also wore $4.5 million worth of diamonds in a partnership with Tiffanys and every outfit, accessory, etc. was more than likely carefully selected for maximum commercialization.

But, it’s just this level of ridiculous that keeps me coming back (and snickering as I write this in an airport, annoying the people near me).

JLo, I heart you, but next time, go back to being over-the-top without so many product placements, ok?

Further reading:

Would you rather product placement be obvious or not obvious?

Leah Remini Is ‘Grateful’ for the Support She’s Received from Friend Jennifer Lopez Since Cutting Ties with Scientology



A marketer walks into a bridal show…

I decided to venture into the New Orleans Bride Magazine’s Bridal Show to see how truly crazy a bridal show really is. And I wasn’t disappointed.

As a bride-to-be, and someone who is fascinated by all types of marketing, I decided to venture into the New Orleans Bride Magazine’s Bridal Show to see how truly crazy a bridal show really is. And I wasn’t disappointed.

The main irony of the show for me was having to pay to go; I paid $20 to wander around and let people try to sell things to me. Where else does this happen without any other content? I can’t think of any examples, but not only did most brides pay it, they brought their whole entourage with them, and they each paid as well. They must know something I don’t know, right?

Once I got past that, I arrived at the event, checked-in, and was promptly adorned by a smiling staff member with a “Bride” sticker.  Ah, so now they can tell who the ultimate decision maker is, interesting. Unless you’re a bride, of course. With the bride sticker on, I felt like a deer wandering into a hunter’s camp. They now knew exactly who to target.

A woman's left chest and shoulder with a hot pink round sticker that says, "Bride" attached to her purple shirt.
This sticker apparently says, “Hi, sell me everything.”

“Bride” sticker target correctly fixed to my shoulder, I got my “goodie” bag and free drink ticket, and walked into the show.  This is the first of two price justification or sunk cost cognitive points, as you as a bride can always try to justify going to these by saying, “Oh, I’ll get a bunch of goodies, which makes up for paying $20 entry fee,” right? Well, you could, but as with most “goodie” bags, it was filled with literature vs. things you’d want, so the justification falls flat quickly. I did pick-up a few fun things on the way, but they most certainly didn’t add-up to $20.

A photo of a bright pink bridal show bag, two cookies, bride and groom koozies, a flipbook, and a huge pile of literature for various magazines, wedding venues, etc.
Bridal show “goodie” bad. Note that the food, koozies, and flipbook weren’t in the bag, I picked-those up at stops at the show. So, the bag was mostly literature.


And off I go, into a sea of vendors physically pulling me into their booths, clipboards being shoved into my hands to fill-out for prizes, and calls to try free samples of food and cake.  This is the second of two price justification or sunk cost cognitive points, as you as a bride can always try to justify going to these by saying, “I’ll get dinner out of this.” Which is true, you could get dinner, but the irony of eating at these events is that a good amount of brides are trying to lose weight and the samples are definitely not healthy or going to help with that.  Also, taking their food triggers a feeling of reciprocity; if you are eating their food, there’s a good chance you’ll feel obligated to listen to them, fill out their form, etc.

Photo of buffet table of free food at a bridal show
Plenty of (unhealthy) food at the event, which is ironic if you think about brides wanting to lose weight.

I ate dinner ahead of time, so I avoided the calorie-bomb food, but took full advantage of the “prize” sign-ups as I was curious how many of these would follow-up with me after the show and, hey, if I won a prize, that’d be cool too. Unfortunately for the show organizers, I kept track of what prizes I signed-up for and what vendors I gave my name to, which lead me to shock #1: they’d clearly given (cough, sold) my contact information to all of the vendors there, as many vendors that I hadn’t given my information to contacted me.

Shock #2 was the predatory nature of some of the vendors. Two of the vendors that contacted me appeared to be high pressure cookware sales companies. They offer you a big prize (such as a free vacation) and knife for coming to a “cooking demonstration.” Now I love to see my experiments through to the end, but they required me to bring my fiancé along, and that’s just too much suffering on his part for me. So vague company names and details, too high priced of giveaways, and reading horror stories online from other brides will have to suffice as evidence that the companies are high pressure sales situations, similar to timeshares.

Was it an awful time? The above might seem that way, but I had fun; it was interesting to see some of the interesting products out there, such as a cake make entirely of cheese from St. James Cheese Company and a Flipbook from Funtastic Fotos. And, it’s fascinating to break down the bridal show business model, as a marketer and a bride, and see the various elements of it.

A stack of continually smaller cheese rounds and squares to make cheese look like a "cake"
St. James Cheese Company’s creative “Cheese cakes” with cheese samples.


Tips for brides going to a bridal show:

  • Enjoy it for what it is.
  • You don’t have to wear the bride sticker.
  • Stick to local, small business vendors.
  • Ask how you can remove your contact information from the list provided to vendors.
  • Think about what you want to accomplish before you go, do you want to find more options for your venue? Do you want to find fun gifts for your groomsmen? Then only go visit those vendors.
  • Eat a meal before you go. Not only will your waistline thank you, but you won’t be drawn into conversations with vendors you don’t want to because you’re grabbing their food.
  • Smile and say “no thank you” you if you aren’t interested.
  • Only claim prizes if it doesn’t mean you have to do something else. Giving them your address of whatever they need for tax purposes is one thing, having to attend another event to “claim” your prize is a red flag that it’s a high pressure sales situation.




“To sell something surprising, make it familiar; and to sell something familiar, make it surprising”

This trend makes perfect sense through the lens of Raymond Lowey’s “Most Advanced Yet Acceptable” (MAYA) principle, that the Atlantic Magazine writer Derek Thompson summarized beautifully in his article about what makes things cool, “[Lowey] said to sell something surprising, make it familiar; and to sell something familiar, make it surprising.”

Five different phones, of various age, to show how they originally looked like a phone and then moved to a full screen.
The evolution of devices, particularly the iPod/iPhone evolution, is a popular example of the MAYA principle. “Mobile Device Evolution” by Adam Selwood, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 4.0

This week, I was skimming readings and came across Ivy Ackerman’s presentation at the 2016 PSFK Conference, where she discusses the “High-Low Dining” concept, namely putting high end restaurants in surprising “low” areas and low-end food in “high” settings. For example, she highlights Sadelle’s New York Bakery, where you have to make a reservation to dine on….bagels, in a high end setting.

MAYA Principle

This trend makes perfect sense through the lens of Raymond Lowey’s “Most Advanced Yet Acceptable” (MAYA) principle, that the Atlantic Magazine writer Derek Thompson summarized beautifully in his article about what makes things cool, “[Lowey] said to sell something surprising, make it familiar; and to sell something familiar, make it surprising.”

So Sadelle’s made the bagel surprising. And people are loving it.

Think about how logos evolve; as one of my colleagues pointed out, the Starbucks logo has changed very gradually over time, so gradually that most people didn’t really even register that it happened.

I’m personally a sucker for novelty kitchen items (please don’t buy me any though, I have plenty!). Why do I love them so much? Most likely because they’ve taken something familiar and made it surprising, like these matryoshka dry measuring cups, which I love so much I won’t even use them for measuring things. So yes, this trick even works on marketers, or at least, it works on this one.

When I think about our work in open educational resources (OER), this also explains the popularity of expert-written, peer-reviewed, fully developed resources with print copies readily available. OER is so much more than a book, but basically, we’ve made it look like a book. We’ve taken something surprising, and made it familiar.

Contemplation questions

  • Are you working on something that’s surprising or familiar?
  • How could you apply the MAYA principle to your work?
  • Can you think of products or services that you love or hate that the MAYA principle may be influencing?





“Mindless Eating” book provides helpful insights into food marketing/research

in reading the book, I found it was also a very helpful guide to many of the food marketing tactics that we see used today. I’ve provided some examples below.

I originally picked-up Brian Wansink’s book, Mindless Eating: Why we eat more than we think, to learn more about ways I could positively impact my personal diet. But, in reading the book, I found it was also a very helpful guide to many of the food marketing tactics that we see used today. I’ve provided some examples below.

He discusses anchoring in terms of calories:

If you ask people if there are more or less than 50 calories in an apple, most will say more. When you ask them how many, the average person will say, “66.” If you had instead asked if there were more or less than 150 calories in an apple, most would say less. When you ask them how many, the average person would say, “114.” People unknowingly anchor or focus on the number they first hear and let that bias them. Kindle location 329

How packaging impacts our choices:

The bottom line: We all consume more from big packages, whatever the product. Kindle location 810

…they could cut the size of their meat and cheese in half, and as long as they added enough garden greens to make the hamburger look just as big, they’d feel as full as if they’d eaten the real deal. Kindle location 614

The power of timing:

At one point in the 1980s, Campbell’s developed a series of commercials for radio stations called “storm spots.”25 These radio ads referred to the rain and pointed out that soup is a cozy, warm, comfort food; that it goes so well with sandwiches that are easy to make; and that—not coincidently—the listener probably happens to have a number of cans of Campbell’s soup in the cupboard right at this minute. Radio stations were instructed that if it were raining or storming between the hours of 10:00 A.M. and 1:00 P.M., they should play these radio ads. The expectation was that people would dutifully eat their soup and buy more the next time they went to the store. Kindle location 1499

The power of smell:

Smell is big business. There are companies that exist solely because they can infuse (the word they oddly use is “impregnate”) odors into plastics. This is because odor can’t reliably be infused into food. Sometimes it doesn’t last; at other times it changes the shelf stability of the food itself. But if you infuse the odor into packaging, it’s a different story. Some day you might heat up your frozen microwavable apple pie and smell the rich apple pie aroma. Even if it’s the container that you’re smelling, you’re primed to enjoy that apple pie even before you put your fork in. Kindle location 1440

Expectation Assimilation and Confirmation Bias:

Psychologists call this “expectation assimilation” and “confirmation bias.” In the case of food, it means that our taste buds are biased by our imagination. Basically, if you expect a food to taste good, it will. At the very least, it will taste better than if you had thought it would only be so-so. Kindle location 1567

Consider two pieces of day-old chocolate cake. If one is named “chocolate cake,” and the other is named “Belgian Black Forest Double Chocolate Cake,” people will buy the second. That’s no surprise. What’s more interesting is that after trying it, people will rate it as tasting better than an identical piece of “plain old cake.” It doesn’t even matter that the Black Forest is not in Belgium. Kindle location 1604

…foods with descriptive names sold 27 percent more. And even though they were priced exactly the same, the customers who ate them consistently rated them as a better value than did the people who ate the same dishes with the boring old names. Kindle location 1636

And much, much more. If you are interested in learning about food marketing and research as well as learning about realistic ways to control your weight and eat healthy, I highly recommend this book.

Reader question: How do restaurants benefit from giving free meals on Veterans Day?

veterans day

A reader, who is a veteran, asked, “How do restaurants benefit from giving free meals on Veterans Day?”

Let me first start by saying that it is my hope and my assumption that the main reason that businesses offer free items and discounts to veterans is because they truly respect what they have done for our country and want to honor them. With that said, they do gain from supporting veterans and this post focuses on those benefits.

Employee morale

If the organization has veteran employees, one benefit of giving discounts or free food/items to veterans is that it is a way to communicate to their veteran employees that they support them. This can be a morale-booster for veteran and non-veteran employees alike.

Product/service trial

Discounts or free food/items to veterans encourages them to try a new product or service. For example, a veteran may have never tried a particular restaurant, but might because of the free promotion. That veteran may like it and come back on a regular basis after that, which means a lot of additional sales for the restaurant. Or, perhaps a veteran hasn’t been to a particular restaurant in a long time and the promotion reminds them how much they like it, so they start visiting more frequently.

Additional sales of family/friends that come along

The majority of people do not go out to eat by themselves. So, it’s most likely that a veteran going to a restaurant for a free meal or discount will bring family or friends along with them.

Very similar to offering free kids meals, the math on this works. A veteran will most likely pick a mid-range item on the menu and bring family and friends. It’s very likely that the profit from those family and friends will cover the cost of the veteran’s meal. And, the restaurant has trial (see above) from the family and friends as well as the veteran.


Media mentions are extremely valuable to business and organizations. Everywhere you look right now, there are news articles listing organizations offering promotions/free meals for veterans (Example: ABC News, The Top Veterans Day Deals and Freebies Tomorrow). And, let’s not forget about all of the social media sharing that is happening between people sharing the promotional information. So, by offering a promotion, these organizations are seeing a Return on Investment from the media mentions.

Me too/Social pressure consideration

I’ve written before about the dangers of copycat “us too” style of marketing. Again, I’m assuming that most restaurants give away free meals to veterans because they want to show their appreciation. With that said, I do think there is a lot of social pressure to do so because other restaurants are doing it and restaurants are afraid of negative publicity/pushback if they don’t do it.

So hopefully, dear reader, this didn’t kill your view of this important day. The above are just considerations. Thank you for your question and Happy Veterans Day.

Instacart price comparison, how much does grocery delivery really cost you?

A basket of groceries on a grocery check-out conveyor belt
Photo from Flickr Creative Commons: qmnonic.


Instacart, a grocery delivery service especially marketed to busy young professionals such as myself, has started offering their services in Houston, Texas. I was curious how much it really cost to use their services. Luckily, I had my last grocery receipt, so I decided to do a comparison. In short, to use Instacart would cost me about $30 more for $70 worth of groceries, so a 43% increase!

Additional observations:

  • Instacart did not have quite a few of the items I regularly buy. Apparently they will grab anything not listed for you, but I have no idea how much more that would cost. 
  • They did not have the full selection of produce, which would cause me to make some adjustments that included buying much more expensive options (such as the organic cucumbers below).

 Details of the comparison:

Item H-E-B (Alabama St. Houston) Price Instacart price for same store
Clear Care Lens treatment 20.97 25.39
Hill Country Body Wash 3.23 3.99
Orti Di Calabria Marinara Sauce 5.99 7.29
HEB 1% ½ Gallon Milk 1.98 2.69
HEB Sparking Water 3.29 Unflavored not offered, only lime.
Frozen Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts 6.98 Not found
Tandori Naan Bread 2.88 Not found
6 pack Central Market Dried Cranberries 1.49×2=2.98  2.09×2=4.18
Cherries (.85 lbs) 5.98 6.09
Fuji Apples (7 apples) 3.81 5.95
Clif Bar 1.00X2=2.00 Not found
HEB Brie Double Crème 4.98 4.89
Chobani Greek Yogurt, individual plain 1.18 1.49
Poblano pepper (1 lb) 1.78 Not found
Red seedless grapes 3.12 4.79
Asparagus 2.98×2=5.96 4.89×2=9.96
HEB baby carrots 1.48 4.89
Cucumber .68×2=1.36 Could only buy organic, at 4.89 eachx2=9.78
HEB Pumpernickel Bread 3.48 3.09
Farmhouse Cage Free eggs 2.69 3.29
Taxes 2.00 Included
Delivery fee None 3.99
Total (only including items found on InstaCart) $71.19 $101.75

Article reveals the tricks of food marketing

A second-story photograph view of a supermarket
From flickr NNECAPA

If you’ve ever been curious about the inner-workings of food marketing, I highly recommend this article, Supersize v undersize: food portions and obesity. As someone who interned in food marketing and took a couple of courses related to the subject in college, this article does a great job at pointing out some of the tricks of food marketing including increasing package size, making portion sizes confusing, raising prices right before a “buy one get one free” offer, etc. When it comes to food, it’s definitely buyer beware and eater beware!