Senior Member

I found this term in D.F.Wallace's 'Mr. Squishy'. Here the facilitator is speaking about group choices as opposed to individual ones:

Granted, the facilitator went on, this
model he was so rapidly sketching for them was overly simplistic —
e.g., it left out advertising and the media, which in today’s hypercomplex
business environment sought always to anticipate and fuel these
sudden proliferating movements in group choice, aiming for a tipping
point at which a product or brand achieved such ubiquitous popularity
that it became like unto actual cultural news and-slash-or fodder
for cultural critics and comedians, plus also a plausible placement-prop
for mass entertainment that sought to look real and in-the-now, and
so thereupon a product or style that got hot at a certain ideal apex of
the MCP graph ceased to require much paid advertising at all, the hot
brand becoming as it were a piece of cultural information or an element
of the way the market wished to see itself, which—Schmidt
gave them a wistful smile—was a rare and prized phenomenon and
was considered in marketing to be something like winning the World

I know what product placement is but am not sure if this is the same thing. Maybe you can help?
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    He's probably referring to the practice of product placement in film and other media, where, for example, a soda can with the Pepsi logo may serve as a prop but also provide advertising for the product.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    It is the same thing, but described from a different angle, I think.

    In other words, a prop in the theatre, or on TV, is any article or item that forms part of the set. In this case, the reference is to a prop that doubles as an example of product placement. So it’s described by combining two of those words to coin the new term placement-prop.


    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Product placement means the advertiser pays the film producer to put a product in the film.

    What he's describing here is when a product is so popular or well known, that the film makers choose it as a prop *without* being paid because the item carries strong cultural meaning and says something about the character.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    Agreed. In this case the use of the product was not to make viewers want to buy it, but to help set the scene (literally) in terms of era, socio-economic environment, etc.