Saturday, 12 August 2006

Product placement: does it make sense?

In one of her articles on Fast Company writer Lynne D. Johnson asks if it makes sense to use movies or TV-series for product placement, using the new Miami Vice movie as a reference. In that movie numerous brands are shown (she mentions about 20 or so). And more and more products are placed into TV-shows and movies. Even camera angles are often placed in a way that company logos are shown in a very flattering way. But does this really help brand recognition?

It depends. The fact of the matter is that it's just being part of a scene or a couple of scenes. And since we're living in a world where logos are around us 24/7, we've tuned out most of those logos. It's not like a commercial where the product is being put front and center and for about 30 seconds sucks all your attention towards it. You probably only notice it in a scene if that particular product is interesting to you in the first place.

It's like becoming interested in a certain new hobby or sport. All of a sudden you see things about it on the TV, hear about it on the radio and read about it in magazines, papers or the internet. Those programs or articles dedicated to it haven't sprung up all at once or they're shown more frequently, it's just that you're tuned in to it more so you're more perceptive about it. So unless an actor turns to the camera and states that this is "the best product he has ever used", product placement will only be noticed by those who want to see it.

But overdoing your product placement can hurt your image. A couple of years ago there was a little incident in a Dutch soap where Coca Cola cans and machines where put into the scenes. Not totally satisfied with the brand recognition actors where given lines in bar scenes along the lines of "Yes, I like to order a Coca Cola", even emphasizing the product's name. After a little public outrage and many complaints they stopped really quickly.

So in order for it to work, product placement will have to become more niche-marketing
-like and new products will have to be placed into movies or TV-series which will attract the group of customers the product is aiming for and who will recognize the products. It might not help increase the brand recognition, but it will help get new products exposure. In that way product placement works like a charm and will make sense.

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