Want to boost your brand? Then get your product in a TV show or movie. Kittima Sethi, a PR consultant at Brand Now, explains the magic of subliminal advertising.
I WAS watching an Indian drama on cable TV when I noticed one of the leading characters holding a bag of a popular brand of Indian chips during one scene. She held on to that bag throughout the five-minute scene and even mentioned its name. She talked about how her life was full of twists and turns, much the same way as the shape of this chip. Now that was well scripted!
That drama is watched not only by millions of Indian households but also audiences around the world. Imagine the brand exposure that was created from this single scene.
This is called product placement, when a company pays for its product to be featured on television or movie to increase or reinforce brand awareness.
This form of advertising is common and I am sure many of you have come across this in movies. Close up shots of leading actors driving a particular brand of car, wearing a particular model of watch or sunglasses or carrying a particular brand of bag is all so very common. Several seconds or a minute of this exposure can lead to an instant boost in sales and interest in the product.
This is also why many luxury companies offer clothes, shoes and accessories for movie stars to wear during music and movie awards. Some even pay a presenter to wear their clothes during a TV show. Media are quick to mention the name of the designer and magazine pages are splashed with photos of these stars and the products.
Product placement also serves as a secondary source of income for movies and TV shows. Several satellite TVs do not allow advertising and many digital recording videos (DVR) offer ad-skipping features, which enables viewers to black out ads on the TV shows that have been recorded. This makes product placement even more attractive to advertisers. As viewers we do not realize this subliminal advertising.
Certain products are featured more than others and these usually include automobiles, electronic gadgets, alcohol and beverages. Sports events, video games and concerts also feature product placements.
Some of the successful product placement campaigns include the following: Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo shoes that are constantly featured in Sex and the City; in the American comedy series Modern Family, one episode revolved completely around how one of the actors wanted only an Apple iPad for his birthday and viewers watched the family standing in the Apple Store lines trying to get the product.
In the US, the Brandcameo Product Placement Awards tracks product placement and brand appearances in every film that tops the US box office. Several awards in different categories are announced annually. Their 2011 Award for Overall Product Placement went to Apple, whose products appeared in 17 (or 42.5%) of the 40 films that were number one films at the US box office in 2011. The 2011 Award for Product Placement Achievement in an Oscar-Nominated Film went to The Help, which featured two brands. The first was Coca-Cola, which has bottles in a scene which sees characters share a heartwarming moment of racial transcendence. The second is Crisco, where the actress Minnie says it is “the most important invention since they put mayonnaise in a jar.”
One of the ways to measure the success of product placement is brand recall. Others are sales, traffic into the store (if it is a retail product), and tracking social media conversation on that product or brand after the product placement has taken place.
There are rules and regulations on what types of products can be placed in TV shows, where it is allowed and how they can be featured. These vary in different countries.
However, companies have to exercise caution when they are weaving products into the shows. Overdoing product placement campaigns may deter consumers who are quick to notice.
Companies also need to lay out an effective product placement strategy to ensure that the product is relevant to the movie or show’s content. This may include either featuring the brand or product briefly on the show or having it scripted into the story.
Kittima Sethi may be reached at kittima@ brandnow.asia. She is now off to watch the next blockbuster, keeping an eye out for some creative product placement.