March 12, 2012
Product Placement in the Media
The world of advertising is busy, congested, and is having trouble reaching a target audience. Their are so many ways to avoid ads, on the internet a user can change or close a page/pop-up, a DVR gives the ability to record and fast forward when watching television, in a magazine just simply turn the page. Product placement has changed the world of advertising impacting what consumers read and watch. Anywhere a consumer goes they’ll see ads, it is at the point where you can’t even avoid the commercials because marketers have slid the ads right into the television shows. If you go to the movies, which a consumer pays for get ready for some ads to fly your way. Product placement isn’t a bad thing though, take a look at where it began, there is a benefit both for the consumer and marketer, but it needs to be controlled.
First of all, what is product placement? A technique used by a brand to promote products, usually shown in television, movies, or other types of media. Product placement often begins with an agreement between a manufacturer and the media company. Gupta and Gould (1997, p.37) say that product placement “involves incorporating brands in exchange for money or for promotional or other consideration”. Companies will have their product featured in a movie or show. Companies use product placement in hopes that consumers will notice their products, because an actor or character talked about it or used it. Therefore building a better image around the product in effort to spike sales.
Product placements can be traced back to the early 1900’s, but where product placement really took off was in 1982 in a movie called ET: The Extra-Terrestrial. In “The Hidden History of Product Placement,” J. Newell, C. Salmon, and S. Chang (2006) state Reese’s Pieces over-through M&M’s for a leading product placement spot in the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. When E.T. opened, Reese’s Pieces was shown in a short clip where a boy left a trail for an alien to follow. Reese’s Pieces became an instant star and the placement became history’s top marketing coup for no exchange of money to Universal studios. Hershey’s received a 15 to 20 million dollar advertisement through the tie-up.
Secondly, product placement is important to both consumers and marketers in similar ways. Consumers usually neglect the benefits of product placement. Let’s begin with an example, Fox network during an episode of 24 eliminated commercials in order to benefit consumers. It was a little deceiving because during the beginning and ending there was about a 3 minutes product placement of the Ford Expedition. During this “ad-free” episode there were no commercials, which is a pretty good hand-off. A few other benefits of product placement are that it pays for the content, eliminates need for commercials, and introduces new products in a creative and entertaining way. On the other hand product placement can shed a false light on products by showing “what they can do” when really it isn’t actually possible. Also sometimes bad writing can create a show to look like a really long commercial for example the episode of “Friends” where Rachael purchases a table from Pottery Barn (Russell, C. A., 2000). These filler episodes are great for product placement and therefore are usually based around a particular brand. Not only will a consumer see this in television but movies are big for bad product placement as well. For example the 1988 movie “Mac and Me” based on a family of aliens injured and stranded on Earth. The only way to heal them is by allowing them to drink Coca-Cola. (Steinbrunner, 2008)
Product placement has its ups and downs, but in the future consumers won’t have to watch those thirty-second blurbs that they fast-forward through. Product placement not only will pay for the content that a consumer watches but will allow them to