Paid product placement… shaken, not stirred

In 1934 a film called It Happened One Night featured actor Clark Gable appearing without an undershirt, following the release of the film undershirts fell by 40 percent. While product placement in movies and shows can be traced back many years, some paid for and some unpaid it has only recently come on to the radar of advertising agencies. While anecdotal stories such as Reece’s Pieces confectionary sales increasing by 65 percent after appearing in E.T. were commonplace, marketers doubted the usefulness of placing products into a fictional setting without clarifying an explicit message.

The proliferation of product placement in popular movies lately has not been the result of a new initiative taken on by marketers but a necessary change that companies have had to make with regards to their product due to various technological changes.  For example, with Foxtel IQ you can now rewind and fast forward live television which means ads no longer have the same impact they had before the introduction of such technologies.

However considering the success of brands such as Ray-Ban after the release of Men in Black and Pinot Noir wine in the wine afficando film Sideways it’s a surprise it took this long for marketers and brands to catch on.

While product placement in films and television shows is limited in the number of ways you can communicate your product and brand it nevertheless has implicit advantages that cannot be ignored.

Absorbing Context Association

Ray-Ban sunglasses claimed a 55 percent rise in sales following Risky Business.

While product placement may not be able to convey an explicit message regarding the benefits of a particular product or service it can convey an implicit association. For example, if Johnny Depp is seen wearing a particular brand of jeans, while the ad is not explicitly conveying that these jeans are superior the simple act of wearing them gives them the same characteristics as the actor. It’s said brands are judged by the company they keep.

Reinforcement of Familiarity
We feel more comfortable with things that we are familiar with and seeing a brand in films can prevent alienating us when it is then shown on billboards and regular television advertisements.

Men in Black did the same for Ray Ban some years later, tripling sales of Ray Ban.

Make it subtle
Scoring a close up of your product in a film may sound like a major win however be warned that product placement can have a negative effect when viewers are aware that your product is paid for. It is much better to have a product subtly be included in a program so it is registered but not too highly prominent.

Examples of product placement that is not so subtle…

Days of Our Lives seems to be the worst when it comes to blatantly pushing their ads, however in this case I believe Cheerios got away with it only because of just how blatant it is, not to mention the YouTube clip alone has 600,000 views.

I’ll leave you with one of the most successful product placement spots, suprisingly done in an old but well known film, its effectiveness was probably due to its novelty

ET Product Placement

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