Product placement as a marketing strategy

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The interdependence between films and shows seeking advertising support and marketers desiring product exposure has led to the practice of product placement. It is a sales technique where movies or shows get paid to put certain products in their scenes. A lot of companies are ready to make their story a part of the story on the screen. Product placement is no longer seen as something that would detract from the story being told. The strategy used is normally that of, ‘seen but not said’, which focuses on subtle displays of the product where it is seen intermittently throughout the story.

Benefits – The types of media that can include product placements are television, film, social media, concerts, music videos, blogs, musicals, plays, live sports, magazines, and books. Another term for product placement is embedded marketing since the product is embedded in another form of media. The two most important benefits of this strategy are increased profits and brand recognition. Brand recognition might not translate to immediate sales, but it always benefits a business in the long run. This strategy also gives brands an opportunity to acquire the attention of people who may be difficult to reach with conventional advertising. With products being placed in a completely natural and authentic context, the audience is far less likely to perceive these advertising efforts as marketing. Some significant examples of product placements are given below.

1) Cast Away – In the 2000 film, Cast Away, Tom Hanks plays a Federal Express executive. The prominence of FedEx in the film is distinctive. The company is the hero’s employer and the arrival of washed-ashore FedEx packages are major plot points in the film. FedEx went beyond being a brand in the film. Gail Christensen, FedEx’s Managing Director of Global Brand Management had stated  “It’s not just product placement, we are a character in the movie.”

2) Skyfall – Product placement is important for James Bond films. Over time, more and more products have made their way into the franchise. Some of the product placements felt natural to the audience. One of the brands that fans had spotted in this particular Bond film was Heineken beer. Fans complained about this particular product placement because Bond’s favorite drink is a vodka martini. For the brand, however, it was a long-term investment. Due to the different countries that the company advertised in through the film, it was not a one-off ad but rather money well-spent. Heineken knew that people would be watching a Bond film for decades.

3) Love Hard – Product placement has also found its way to streaming services. Netflix’s new Christmas film ‘Love Hard’, a festive rom-com, has quite a few instances of product placements. They are not annoyingly prominent visual placements but are subtly woven into the movie’s theme. The lead actor books a Lyft and uses a Dior blush during her ride, for example.

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