These days many people have gotten used to ignoring television ads, and the advent of DVR systems - the likes of TiVo etc-- as well as streaming video sites like Netflix and Hulu have made it easier to pass by those unwanted interruptions. So how are networks and TV shows supposed to get their money if we just pass ads by? Well, you could just put commercials in the shows that will work.
Product placement and its evolution
Product placement is not new to movies and television shows, some say the first was in E.T. the Reese’s Cups used in a scene of the movie might have started it all. There have been many forms of product placement in movies most somewhat subtle, and some perhaps even unintentional. Most product placement and in show advertising started off with having a Coke can in a scene, a Pizza Hut box on the table in the background, characters passing by a popular shop on their romantic walk in Time Square, all subtle advertising without interrupting the viewers experience with the show itself. Seems simple and effective, but is it effective? According to Hershey’s the Reese’s placement in E.T. grew sales around 65%. Recently it seems that the advertisers have moved past just simply having a product in the show or movie. Watching this clip of Subways’ endeavor into Hawaii 5-0 shows that product placement has moved into becoming part of the script itself. This product placement is a clear move away from the flow of the show into a one minute full on advertisement for Subway. Is this the next step in TV shows’ product placement evolution?
Effectiveness of product placement
TV and movie product placement seems to be much more effective than its counter parts in new media advertisement. A study in 2004 shows that 30% of TV/Movie viewers were persuaded to purchase after seeing product placement in movies or TV shows. This figure spikes up to 40% for those surveyed between the ages of 15-24 year olds.
In order to have an effective product placement there are some aspects that need to be looked at. The most effective product placement pairs a brand that has aspects related to characters and the atmosphere in which the movie is portraying. A prime example is White Castle’s placement in Harold and Kumar, two twenty-somthings with “munchies” who endeavor to get their fix. They will stop at nothing and have no substitutes but for the brand that is being advertised. We won’t go too much into the innuendo of this film and that it places on White Castle’s customers, but it fits very much with pairing the brand aspects with the characters. The fit was so strong that the entire movie was essentially an advertisement for White Castle, it’s even in the title.
Now compare this to the Hawaii 5-0 Subway placement, the match with characters, show subject matter, and how it fits within the context are all glaringly wrong. So was it effective? Yes, but not because of its ability to fit with the show, more because of how it became viral- yes, this article could perhaps be contributing to some of its success. As they say there is no such thing as bad publicity.
Where does it leave us
The trend in product placement most likely will not be going away anytime soon. The Journal of Management and Market Research has some statistics that are very pro product placement. 60% of viewers see placed brands in a positive light, and in 2010 figures show that 75% of shows had branded content within their shows. All of these numbers will rise as we move into new viewership mediums, TiVo is great but you’re not skipping all the commercials.