Autograph: Just Slightly Ahead Of Their Time

And I’m not just talking about the futuristic setting of the video for the arena bashers’ 1984 MTV staple “Turn Up The Radio”; did you know that the pen employed at the clip’s outset–the one that’s, y’know, erasable–was actually there because of old-time product placement? It was the result of a partnership between Autograph and Paper Mate, who presumably wanted their target demo to carry around a writing implement that would protect them against the brain-wave-destroying vengeance of robotic lady-bouncers. BusinessWeek‘s Jon Fine dredged up an old Los Angeles Times piece that explained the deal:

Autograph’s] album came out last October. A month later, the video for “Turn Up the Radio” was released. At first, album sales were slow-80,000 copies in the first three months. But eventually the video influenced sales, as did a January-March tour this year, and 500,000 more copies were sold. Thanks to a shrewd advertising tie-in, the Paper Mate pen company supplied funding for the video, along with some other financial support. “Because of our name and the album title, `Sign In Please,’ our manager (Susie Frank) thought we might get a pen-and-pencil company as a sponsor,” Plunkett explained. “Paper Mate agreed to give us money if we advertised their pen. We were able to make a much more expensive video than the average new band.” Does the band have any reservations about being linked to a product? “Not really,” he replied. “We needed the money. You do anything you can to get money when you’re starting out; it’s so expensive to get a band off the ground. [Picky editors’ note: No. It isn’t.] With the name Autograph, it’s logical for us to be advertising a pen. It would only be weird and out of place if we were advertising something like a vacuum cleaner or a roach spray.”

Fine puts out a call to see if there were earlier examples of product placement in videos–which were still a nascent medium when Autograph captured peoples’ attention–but I can’t think of any that weren’t the result of instrument endorsements off the top of my head. (How did this not snag that bug spray deal, anyway?Product Placement 1.0: Paper Mate And Hair Metal, Perfect (?) Together [BusinessWeek]