Over six seasons of Sex and the City, the Yankees were name-checked 26 times, and Christian Louboutin called out only once. But most surprising, is the slim number of references to “Manolo Blahnik”; that phrase is spoken only 16 times in 94 episodes, which seems low, considering the brand’s importance to Carrie Bradshaw, the show’s fashionista and shoe fetishist.
French artist Pierre Buttin is certain of the count. He spent 60 hours reading through subtitles and compiling a 1,500-entry spreadsheet of brands and their time stamps. “There were plenty of American cultural references I didn’t know about,” he says. So he Googled each entry to see if it was really a brand (he’s a bit off on the Barolo reference). Then he whittled the list down to 324 discrete products (with 838 overall mentions), cut the references together, and added in his own English subtitles.
In response to this massive, seemingly frivolous undertaking, we can’t help but wonder: why?
Buttin wanted to explore his own emotional response to the show. He was so “emotionally attached” to the Sex and the City characters that he cried during the finale. Which bothered him just a little. He couldn’t help but wonder either: “To what extent is an open heart immune to subtle (yet intensive) product placement?”
Quite open, it seems. “I assume that Sex and the City contributed a lot to Manolo Blahnik’s fame,” Buttin says, adding that there were plenty of shots which showed Carrie wearing the shoes without a verbal mention.
But Manolo, as mentioned, wasn’t the most-mentioned brand in the show. The win-tour? Vogue.JM