Straw Poll: Is GQ’s Mila Kunis Cover a Stealth Starbucks Product Placement?


A few days ago, we addressed concerns from Forbes about product placement on Sarah Palin’s Newsweek magazine cover.

Forbes cited rules by ASME (the American Society of Magazine Editors) regarding covers and product placement, to wit: “The cover and spine should not be used to advertise products other than the magazine itself.”

What, then, does that mean for the latest cover of GQ?[more]

The large (“Trenta?”) tapered plastic ice coffee cup with the fat green straw held by Marine pin-up Mila Kunis is recognizable to pretty much anyone who has been to a Starbucks.

In fact, Starbucks sells a reusable, harder plastic iced coffee beverage cup with the color combination.

Sure, other coffee purveyors use green straws for their iced beverages, but only because Starbucks made the move iconic.

ASME’s guidelines thus raise the question: does the logo-less cup held by Kunis constitute a “product placement” if the brand and logo aren’t in evidence?

Just because it does not feature a logo or brand name (which Starbucks has removed from its new logo) ignores half of product design. What if the cover model held a Pom Wonderful bottle, label removed? What if the cup was orange and pink?

We’re clearly not the only ones who thought this. The Observer wrote, “God love the art director who photoshopped out the garish branding of the mermaid seal but kept the straw Starbucks green.”

And across Twitter, users also noted the brand on the cover

So is a product placement that hides the logo still a product placement?