Netflix bid on and won the rights to House of Cards in 2011, buying the show before producers shot it, and committed to two seasons. With David Fincher and Kevin Spacey on its roster, it was destined to have HBO-esque success from audiences hungry to marathon a full season of well-scripted drama.
Although a final figure for how much Netflix invested in the show was never released, there’s no ignoring the popularity of House of Cards — even in China. Netflix has even claimed that it’s revolutionized Internet TV. And in some ways this holds very true, particularly considering that HoC was the first non-network show to be nominated for an Emmy.
With that said, though, commercial content runs rampant throughout the show like corruption (apparently) does the nation’s capital. Products aren’t just placed occasionally; they sometimes deflect focus away from the scene in an abrupt and obtrusive way. Other times, these product placements are integrated fairly naturally into the fabric of the show, even taking on an arguably symbolic significance.
What follows is a list that includes seven of the greatest moments of product placement in House of Cards. Have you noticed any of them? Of course you did.
They’re smart, sexy women who can break a major news story with the touch of a button. Virtually all the women on the House of Cards have an iPhone on them at all times, and they aren’t afraid at all to flaunt it. Zoe Barnes, a reporter on the show, has a hand in getting her powerful male boss axed with a tweet from her oh-so-noticeable Apple product. Claire, meanwhile, arranges forbidden meetings and sexy liaisons with lovers and lobbyists using her iPhone. If they have their iPhones handy, it’s probably best to steer clear of these women, assuming you want to stay out of trouble.
Men on the show, however, are noticeable for having their Blackberry devices handy (or, in a particular instance, mistakenly leaving them around in a moment of sexual seduction). That was the case in season one’s close, when Frank’s Blackberry got the money shot when he closed in on his wife Claire in a lustful moment of love. Peter Russo, meanwhile, casually threw his Blackberry out of his car window and died shortly thereafter. The message concerning Blackberry is pretty clear in the show’s subtext: protect these devices like a suckling little child or die a very miserable death.
We’ve already discussed one sex scene where the Blackberry made an appearance (i.e. the one involving Frank and his wife Claire). Well, we’re not done yet. Zoe Barnes, who’s played by Kata Mara, has six on-screen encounters involving or implying sex. A mobile device was present in four out of those six sex scenes — and by “in them,” we mean the device was intimately involved in some way.
Of course, the character clearly had a fun and fulfilling time in these scenes. The other two scenes where a mobile device wasn’t present? Yes, you guessed it, she isn’t portrayed as feeling too thrilled in the slightest. Of course, this brings viewers to yet another valuable lesson — namely, that nothing can be sexy unless a mobile device is present and accounted for.
While the iPhone/Blackberry play peek-a-boo in sexual scenes through the series, nothing says “stable relationship” like lighting up with your partner in matrimony after a long day’s work. Sure, all relationships have their proverbial ups and downs, but it’s nothing that a mutual cigarette can’t fix.
No matter if he’s out sleeping with journalists or sabotaging his colleagues’ careers to gain in his own, Frank always comes home to Claire to share a nightly cigarette. Oh, and to include a note of important advice from Frank on a related subject: “Never slap a man while he’s chewing tobacco!”
If you’re thinking about becoming Vice President of the United States of America, you should start thinking about “breaking bacon” with his billionaire bestie. Need to raise thousands of dollars fast for an amorphous nonprofit? You’ll need to arm yourself with the right foodstuff; at least, assuming you’re trying to get Frank’s ear.
Hopefully, you have a full rack of pork ribs ready to toss on the grill. Freddy, who’s Frank’s favorite BBQ chef, appears in seven of the 13 episodes in the first season of the show. Does he do anything to further Frank’s efforts as a politician? Not at all (at least not until the second season). But he does make delicious pork ribs.
According to the State Justice Department’s statistics, only 32 people in the District of Columbia were arrested for a DUI in 2013. Compare that to the state with the highest — California — with 214,828 DUI arrests. Perhaps the reason for this is how easy it apparently is to maneuver a Cadillac. Peter Russo’s drunk parallel parking jobs in the show are quite the marvel, considering he’s boozed up. Fast forward to episode 11 of season one at 24:30. Instead of knocking over the fire hydrant, he parks a perfect six inches away from the curb. Maybe California can stand to increase its sales of Cadillacs. To say the least, a smaller foreign sports car would definitely have been a better car to parallel park, but then again drunk parallel parking isn’t advisable regardless of what country your car comes from…..well maybe Russian cars are used to it.
Yes, David Rasmussen, the House majority leader, is lazy and incompetent. But guess what? It’s not his fault! The congressional cafeteria offers such delicious pizza that the man can’t focus, leaving him prone to unprotected strikes from pork-eating sharks like the man himself, Frank Underwood. In addition to cocaine and prostitutes, Pizza Hut uncovers itself to be one of guilty pleasures that politicians find themselves indulged in.
This television series also showcases just how much people — rich ones, that is — love their Sony products. Even with this impossible to manage workload, Frank finds the time to play video games on his Playstation Vita. Although Claire owns an iPhone, she uses a Sony onboard navigation system if she’s in a hurry and needs to get somewhere fast. This latter point is particularly interesting, considering the iPhone comes with a GPS system that can do the same job.
Although these eight make the list, there are plenty of other products featured throughout the show. What do you think of this sneaky method of emphasizing the material, consumerist society in which the House Of Cards cast lives? Where else in the show have you spotted products that are being blatantly advertised? Leave a comment below, and let us know what your eyes catches!