Product Placement is an easy way not only to advertise the product but also to make a good endorsement for the brand or company if it is placed in the right context for the target audience. From this point of view, it can be considered one of PR tactics, like sponsorship or collaboration. Fashion, tech, automotive, food&drink industries are the main contributors in product placement. Examples are numerous: for instance, the resource Product Placement Blog lists about 3.000 cases of product placement in different movies and series. The statistics say, that in 40 most popular movies of the year on average 18 brands are places and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” is the record-holder with 70 brands mentioned during 2,5 hours (Anya Bashtovaya, 2016; Mindi Chahal, 2015). But the question is whether this placement is effective for brands and do people really care about any product the characters on the screen use.
One reason why the placement is still alive and becomes even more popular is the massive motion against the classical advertisement. People do their own staff during commercials on TV and just use ad blockers online, so companies struggle to reach the audience (LSM Blog, no date). However, you can’t scroll down the scene in the movie and could not ignore the brand of coffee your favorite character takes or the smartphone he uses. But does it really matter, if I notice the brands in the series? I believe it’s not enough.
The case is that the placement should be relevant – both to the movie or series scenery and to the image of the brand. The character should behave naturally with the product and should be associated with the typical consumer of it. Moreover, placement should not be too obvious: when the most dramatic scene interrupted by a short look on the logo at the computer or model of the car, the viewer gets frustrated or even angry with both brand and producers, so it’s loose-loose situation.
“Realism is the key – a blue-collar character cannot be seen wearing Armani, and James Bond can’t be seen in a stodgy sedan,” comments professor from the Villanova School of Business to Advertising Age (Brian Steinberg, 2012).
The best cases of placement aim to present the product as part of the character’s image: this was the issue with sunglasses of main characters in ‘Men in Black’ which were provided by Ray Ban, or with cars of James Bond, who was lucky enough to drive the latest models of Bentley, Aston Martine, and BMW in different films. Even better, if the product plays an important role in the development of the character, but never looks like the ad. The brilliant examples of this case provided by Givenchy, who dressed the characters of Audrey Hepburn in “Sabrina” and “Funny Face”. The way how the character dresses were extremely important for the story in both these movies, so Givenchy’s clothes become the right choice to get charm, chic and style after these endorsements.
“Brands have an unrivalled opportunity to entertain and connect with them and can showcase their best brand stories alongside legendary film-makers and characters”, says Karen Stacey, CEO at Digital Cinema Media (Mindi Chahal, 2015).
The successful product placement needs to be organic; it tends to be co-operation between brand and film producers with the mutual aim to reach the audience rather than a new form of advertisement.
Anya Bashtovaya (2016). Store on the screen. Theblueprint.ru. / Аня Баштовая (2016). Магазин на экране. Theblueprint.ru. Available from https://theblueprint.ru/fashion/product-placement.
Brian Steinberg (2012). Many Brands Bid for Product Placement on ‘Modern Family,’ but So Few Make It. Advertising Age. Available from http://adage.com/article/media/brands-products-modern-family-make/232271/.
London School of Marketing (No date). Is product placement still an effective marketing strategy? Available from http://www.londonschoolofmarketing.com/blog/is-product-placement-still-an-effective-marketing-strategy.
Mindi Chahal (2015). Is product placement out of control? Marketing Week. Available from https://www.marketingweek.com/2015/06/23/cover-has-product-placement-gone-too-far/.
Product Placement Blog. Available from https://productplacementblog.com.