Think Like a Man Plugs Steve Harvey, Shamelessly

by Andrew Chan
Film critic Roger Ebert calls Think Like a Man, which just passed its second weekend as North America's #1 movie, "one of the greatest examples of product placement in history" for good reason. The entire film, from beginning to end, is a running commercial for comedian Steve Harvey's 2009 relationship advice book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, even though the title has been shortened.

Ebert writes, "We see Steve Harvey plugging the book on a daytime talk show, and then he appears again from time to time to to deliver advice straight to the audience." While it's great for Harvey's personal brand (and, no doubt, book sales — he's even shown promoting the book at a Barnes & Noble store, with an Oprah seal of approval on the cover), the incessant plug also becomes the movie's biggest downfall.

Although some of the acting is better than expected, it's hard not to agree with Ebert when he asks, "can you believe for a moment in characters naive enough to actually live their lives following Steve Harvey's advice? The result is a tiresome exercise." (The upcoming movie adaptation of What to Expect When You're Expecting may prove just as tedious for the same reason.)

Besides promoting Harvey (also the movie's executive producer) and his book, the movie — which took in $33.6 million its opening weekend to take down The Hunger Games' four-week run at #1 in North America and an estimated $18 million this past weekend to hang onto the top spot — also promotes Sony products. No surprise, as Sony Pictures is behind the movie.

Even though the movie's officialbrand partners page only lists four — Ford, with the 2013 Ford Taurus getting a cameo in the film; Black Opal, a cosmetics and skincare line designed for "the unique needs of skin of color"; Shiekh Shoes (sic) for the footwear; and DTLR for the fashion — movie-goers will find it hard to miss the Sony-branded smartphones and laptops throughout the two-hour film.

As the action centers around four couples, there's plenty of female-bonding and male-bonding as they all study Harvey's book to get a leg up on the opposite sex — meaning the inevitable beer bottles and labels hoisted throughout the movie (Amstel Light, Dos Esquis, Heineken, Newcastle Pale Ale) when the men get together, for instance.

There's also basketball, from the Spalding logo visible on a ball to an abundance of Nike-branded apparel on the players; and, naturally, cars. In addition to the Taurus there are references to the Ford Mustang, Mini Cooper, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche brands to impress the ladies. It's all about brand-dropping to signify lifestyle, from hiring gay interior decorators to the mentions of Bed, Bath & Beyond.

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