The Super Bowl is a special time for marketers. It’s the only time when their commercials have the undivided attention of millions of potential consumers, while the other 364 days of the year is spent fast-forwarding with the help of DVR, tivo, on-demand, and other televised user controlled features. So how do marketers reach consumers these days? You may not have noticed first hand, but they’re enticing you with the help of your favorite TV shows. The coined term by marketers is “product placement” and it’s being used more than ever before. It’s been said that as Internet TV — and DVRs — let more viewers edit out commercials, they may well also be driving more commercial content inside the frame where viewers can’t avoid it. So when does use of a certain product become simply overused and abused product placement?
Some of the most popular shows on television receive the most pointless and useless product placement. For instance, American Horror Story Coven Episode 3: The Replacements had a scene where Marie Laveau played solitaire on her ipad. It served no purpose to the plot, other than to show Apple’s product in front of the 7 to 10 million viewers FX American Horror Story Coven receives every episode. It’s said that Apple is “king” when it comes to product placement. In 2010, Apple and the Disney-owned ABC sparked some controversy when the first iPad became the focus of an episode of Modern Family. Former Apple executive Suzanne Lindbergh, who was with the company for 25 years in charge of making sure Apple products showed up front-and-center in both big and small screen entertainment, now with Jawbone, made Apple one of the most widely used product placement . One of television’s most talked about show of 2013, Netflix’s House of Cards, featured one scene in particular with 9 Apple products all in-frame at once.
On the contrary, Apple has said that they don’t pay to have their products on the small screen or the big screen, unlike Microsoft who has had to pay to get its Surface tablet featured on TV shows like NCIS: Los Angeles, Hawaii Five-O, Elementary, Arrow, and among others.
Competitors like Microsoft can only hope that their paid placements will kick-start a virtuous cycle where -- after being perceived as cool after being seen on TV, their devices will appear desirable to producers, who will then choose to feature them on their shows even without a fee like Apple.
It’s cool to be hip, and hip for products to be considered cool. They want you to you associate your favorite shows with their products, thus converging the meanings of the two brands. Although there have been many studies on brand placement, the effects of brand image on attitudes has remained largely unexplored and unproven to persuade buying behavior.