Marketing through Product Placement in Media/Entertainment Offers No Escape for Consumers

May 20th, 2011
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Flickr Image: Laughing Squid

Flickr Image: Laughing Squid

Most of us escape to some form of entertainment as a way to relax from life’s stresses, whether it’s rocking to our favorite songs or losing ourselves in a movie. However, as we are listening or watching we are constantly being exposed to marketing and advertising in subtle and sometimes not so subtle doses, through clever product placement. It’s everywhere, in every form of media and entertainment. Brands are trying desperately to keep up with the newly empowered consumers of 2011. We are cutting our cable chords (canceling cable in favor of Internet access to content), DVR’ing shows to skip commercials, and having manhandled the music industry for the past decade – using peer-to-peer networks to illegally download songs.

The music industry has a few things up their sleeves to make some extra dough. In the last decade, they’ve began experimenting with the idea of product placement in lyrics to the tune of $30 million. We all remember the Busta Rhymes and P Diddys jingle, err song, called “Pass The Courvoisier,” released after Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Records cut a deal with the cognac’s marketer to reposition the brand in the hip hop community.

The movie industry has been using product placement since silent films. Last month Warrior Poets, Morgan Spurlock’s production company, and incidentally a BurrellesLuce client (an obvious plug) released a movie on this very subject, “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.” Spurlock’s latest work is a documentary that takes a comical view while exploring the world of product placement, marketing and advertising. Incidentally the film was fully financed through product placement from various brands, all of which are integrated transparently into the film.

In my view, the product integration model seems to be marketers only recourse. After all what choice did we, the consumer, leave them – especially with the younger generation turning increasingly to the web for their content and worldwide device?  Gartner Group announced earlier this week that worldwide communication device sales totaled 427.8 million units in the first quarter, an increase of 19 percent from first quarter 2010, with smart phones accounting for 23 percent, an 85 percent increase year-on- year.

 I don’t mind a product placement or two in my content, after all products and brands are a big part of our everyday lives. But I have one request for the marketers and advertisers, and let’s call it “for the sake of preserving escapism through entertainment,” can you please keep your placements subtle to the viewer? At least in the movie Castaway, although the FedEx brand was overly exploited, it was brilliantly woven into the plot, which I found to be less invasive and manipulative. Now I’m not saying that I’ve used FedEx more as a result of watching the Castaway, forget it….. come to think of it I actually have.

Have you been sold on product placement in films and music? How are you using these placements in your own marketing, advertising, and communications activities? Please share your thoughts we me and readers Fresh Ideas.

2 Responses to “Marketing through Product Placement in Media/Entertainment Offers No Escape for Consumers”

  1. Dave says:

    The ABC show Castle is the master of product placement. A recent episode featured Castle looking up someone on Netflix prominently displayed on his Windows Phone 7 screen. Last week he opened Outlook on it to send an email.

    I don’t begrudge them this at all and much prefer it to the traditional commercial break, although they don’t seem to have cut back on those.

  2. Harry says:

    Well, Dave, I certainly appreciate your take on this matter. I am all for a cleverly placed product in my shows or movies or songs – the problem for me is, I am more conscious of them now. I watched the Shining the other night for the 100th time and for the first time counted all of the brands that are in the food storage room with Jack Nicholson after Wendy knocks him out. I think there were fourteen in a 30 second span, all perfectly blended by Mr. Kubrick. However, today I feel they are a little more obvious, again, that can be because I am more conscious of them now.

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