Tagged: advertising

Lights, Camera, Action: Video Conversions in 2021

The game has changed. Written material is on its way out and its replacement? Video content. With the numbers on its side, it’s no surprise people prefer this fresher form of content over its older, outdated counterpart. Keep reading to see why and how you can take advantage of this movement before it’s too late.


Why such a shift to video?
So what’s so great about video content? Well, the reasoning has to do with its ability to captivate an audience on two playing fields. Where text only has the ability to capture our attention via visuals and is forced to rely heavily on punctuation, word choice and visual cues to convey a message, video has the ability to appeal both visually and auditorily. Although adding sound and movement may seem like a minor shift, according to Medium, an average viewer is able to remember 95% of a message when it is watched, whereas only 10% when read. This huge margin of retention rate plays a significant role in this shift to video, but it isn’t the only reason.
According to a study shared on Wyzowl, the average attention span of an individual has significantly dropped. What was once 15 seconds has now dwindled down to a measly 8.25. Dwindling attention spans have been recognized already by ad agencies across the world causing 77% of them to view video ads as an essential business moving forward into this digital era. As new technologies emerge, the more options advertisers will have when it comes to video advertising.


How can I apply this?
Video campaigns aren’t going anywhere, so how can you effectively apply them to your business? There are many platforms where video campaigns can be utilized, but this list highlights the best of the best and goes over ways to truly optimize both your campaign and your viewer’s experience.

YouTube
With 2.3 billion users per month and $19.7 billion in revenue in 2020, according to BusinessOfApps, Youtube is the front runner of this evolving marketing tactic. Both creating original content for YouTube and running video advertisements are effective ways to expand your consumer reach and brand awareness via video campaigns.

A. Original Content – Creating original content is already a difficult enough task for most, however, properly optimizing your content is another beast. Detailed below is a list of tactics you can use to take full advantage of what YouTube has to offer in regard to future video campaigns.

a. Promote Interaction – At the end of each video invoke the viewer to do something. A simple “Click here to learn more” hyperlink can do the trick and, depending on your goal, can be adapted to virtually anything. Notifications, such as cards, should also be used throughout the video to promote interaction as
well as hold viewers’ attention.


b. Visuals, Visuals, Visuals – One of the key components to optimizing your YouTube
videos is to have an eye-catching thumbnail. According to a study done by BestSeoCompanies, “88% of thumbnails


c. Promote Subscriptions – Obviously the more subscribers you obtain the better, so simply reminding viewers at the end of your videos to subscribe, and supplying a hyperlink to do so, creates the opportunity to increase your following.


d. Partner Up – Collaboration promotes a synergistic outcome for both parties and allows new horizons to be introduced via new viewers. Partnering with companies or individuals with similar personalities and audiences leads to the best outcomes for both parties.


B. Advertisements – YouTube offers a wide selection of ads for advertisers to choose from. Each ad choice depends on the budget and goal of the advertisement so it’s important to consider how you want to reach and impact viewers.
in 2020 were colorful and averaged more views than thumbnails with a more
minimalist color scheme.”


a. Skippable In-Stream Ads (TrueView Ads) – Because they can be skipped, it’s critical these ads grab and hold the viewer’s attention while still informing them about your product or service. These ads can vary in length from as short as 12 seconds to as long as 3 minutes. Payment for the ad only occurs if the viewer interacts with it or watches more than 30 seconds of it.


b. Un-skippable In-Stream Ads (Pre-Roll Ads) – Up to 15 seconds long, these advertisements offer a great way to quickly promote a brand. A call to action is important in order to generate more leads to a website. Bumper ads are another form of un-skippable in-stream ads that are six seconds long and could leave viewers interested in learning more.


c. Video Ad Sequencing – This more extensive type of ad allows advertisers to tell a story through a series of videos strung throughout one or multiple YouTube videos. This type of storytelling often leads to more engagement from the viewer. According to AdPresso, this type of advertisement has been shown to produce a 107% higher ad recall and a 134% higher purchase intent when compared to the other types of ads.


d. Youtube Ad Extensions – Ad extensions offer a call to action, usually in the form of a “Learn More” banner alongside a video ad. By implementing this, you offer a simple way for the viewer to learn more about your product or service. This type of ad generally leads to more interaction from viewers due to its simplicity.

TikTok
analyzed from the most popular videosDespite its relatively new conception, TikTok has become one of the most regularly used and visited social networks of this generation. With over 1 billion active users per month, according to WallroomMedia, TikTok is also one of the fastest-growing social channels this decade. Brands on TikTok can easily blend in with every other creator on the app which, in turn, helps with brand exposure. Videos highlighting important elements of an organization’s product/service while remaining consistent with trends on TikTok are the most effective in creating exposure.

Instagram Reels
Similar to that of TikTok, Instagram Reels can be used to create a variety of content strategies. By properly applying Instagram Reels, a brand has the ability to diversify its Instagram posts, leading to not only more impressions, but new ones, expanding brand awareness. IG Reels can be used as a “bridge” to your Instagram profile, ultimately leading a potential consumer to your homepage.

Twitter
With a video length limit of 2 minutes and 20 seconds and a daily user base of 166 million, according to Hootsuite, the proper application of Twitter’s video capability has the potential to greatly increase brand awareness. Twitter’s latest update also included the addition of “Fleets.” Similar to that of both TikTok and Instagram Reels, Fleets allows the user to post short videos that are then placed at the top of your follower’s feed. This addition can be used to highlight important dates, upcoming releases or sneak peeks in regards to your brand.

Returning Back to the Office

By: Derek Caswell
Over the past few years many of the normalacies in life have changed.  Masks, for example, are now a normal fashion accessory, and having temperatures being taken as we enter buildings is now a part of our morning routines.  However, there is one thing that has been significantly impacted due to the COVID outbreak, and that is where we do our work.  

Many people across the world have had their daily lives changed. In many cases, the commute to work or school is now a simple walk to the kitchen to start our morning coffee!  People have been working from home for about a year and half now and, from what I’ve seen online, have enjoyed the change.  

However, work routines are starting to go back to what they were before. Thankfully, through vaccinations and the hard work being done in the medical field we seem to be moving back to the “normal” lifestyle.  

People online are expressing their dislike of having to go back to working in an office.  Many of them seem to really enjoy working remotely and having the luxury of not having to be in an office.  Many Gen Z/Millennials who entered the workforce are making jokes about finding a new job after receiving the email about returning to the office.  According to bloomberg.com, when surveying around 1,000 adults nearly 40% of them said they would consider resigning if they’re supervisors weren’t flexible about working remotely.  When concentrating those results to include just Gen Z/Millennials, the number jumps to nearly 50%. 

As someone who has gotten used to doing a lot of work from home, I definitely understand the struggle.  There’s just something special about waking up ten minutes before a meeting and logging in while sipping your morning coffee on your couch.  At first, it did feel a little weird to be inside one building all day instead of going to school/meeting in person.  Sometimes I wonder why we even had to go in person in the first place.  Need to have a group meeting? Great, let’s all hop on a call in 10 minutes and discuss everything.  You can stay in your pajamas while watching the newest episode of “Love Island” from last night.  

Now, I have to wake up earlier, think about an outfit, and make sure I have enough time to get to my destination.  This all sounds ridiculous right?  Who knew it would take a pandemic to make people appreciate the small things in life.  But, eventually routines will return to normal again and we will have to go back to working in person full time.  I’m curious as to how this time will affect “office” culture with what is or isn’t allowed.  With graduation in just a couple of months, I’m excited to enter a world that is somewhere in between.  It will make the first couple of years interesting to say the least.

How I Used my Strategic Planning Skills to Plan Life After Undergrad

By: Senior, April Wood

As I approached and finally entered the last year of my undergraduate degree, one question became an uncomfortably looming presence – What do I want to do with my life (and my degree)? 

The truth is – I’m still looking. But I’d love to share my thought process so far.

In figuring this out, I decided to approach it with the wisdom I have gained from the UCM PR Program and its professors. I formed a rough vision of my ideal life. I took note of the values and morals I held. I also focused on what made me happy. 

I asked myself questions; What do I enjoy doing? Where do I enjoy being? Who do I want to spend my time with? What do I want my work life balance to be like? What job will challenge my knowledge and experience with all of my favorite skills?

The answer is: I’m only 22.

If my life is in the form of the ROPE process, I’m still in the research phase. I’m in the bulk of that work now, and in one of the busiest times of life. 

I’m reaching the verge of the objectives phase. 

Values that solidified during the research and analysis stage will be present throughout the entire rest of the process.

Below is just a little more insight into my journey specifically and how I applied my skills gained during my undergraduate years in planning my future. 

I enjoy embracing a challenge, but I love embracing one of my own creation. 

Having control over my schedule is also a must I flagged. I need the flexibility due for several reasons. I enjoy learning, planning, and analyzing.

More and more, It seemed like starting a small business could be a solid goal for me. I’ve decided to tentatively embrace the idea – pending A LOT of time and work. 

I’ve begun researching flipping houses as one potential small business idea. It’s a business concept that has always fascinated me. I enjoy creating and designing, I’m not afraid to pick up a tool, and I have a wealth of business, finance, and strategic communications knowledge.

I have experts and mentors to support me, a network of connections I have spent my young adult life cultivating, and I will soon have a Public Relations and Strategic Communications degree with a minor in Finance. I have a solid foundation of knowledge of how a business runs, how to make financing decisions, how to communicate to an audience, and how to develop a brand. 

This plan is obviously going to take years of learning and saving.

What am I doing now to progress towards my goal?

Right now, I’m working to further develop my skills and gain as much knowledge and experience I can. I believe in life-long learning, which makes me versatile and driven. After graduation, I’ll aim to find a job opportunity to continue learning while saving money. 

Ultimately, I just want to have a happy and secure life. If I can do it by running my own business, great, if I fail – it’s not a waste. Part of being a lifelong learner is never failing to learn something from a success or mistake. 

So, this is what I HOPE to do with my degree – at some point, and maybe not forever. I’m just eager to see what life has to offer.

Differentiating Public Relations from Similar Industries

By: Rebeka Dickerson

Public relations is often confused by the general public with many other industries, but specifically marketing and advertising. The three are so similar that they are even commonly integrated these days. And then there is journalism which is frequently mentioned in the PR world as well. So, to help provide a better understanding of these four important communication mediums, I am providing some information below about what makes each unique. 

Public Relations

Public relations is all about awareness and reputation. Awareness and reputation can in turn help a company sell products or become successful. PR deals with the long game; keeping customers coming back and obtaining new loyal customers. 

An example of PR is the #IceBucketChallenge. The 2014 viral campaign raised awareness for ALS by inspiring people to post videos of themselves being drenched by a bucket of ice water and/or donating for ALS research. Many celebrities participated and over $115 million dollars was raised for the ALS Association.  

Marketing

Marketing is a technique for stimulating a demand for a specific product or service. The main goals are to make a product or service widely known and to increase sales. The transaction of something in the moment matters more than what will happen with the company in two or three years. Professionals in this industry often refer to product, price, place, and promotion as the four Ps of marketing needed to sell goods or services. 

An example of marketing is Spotify and how it is is marketed differently than other music applications. Spotify assists users in finding music they have never heard before. Users can click any category of music and explore a multitude of artists. Spotify also sorts music options by music someone may want to workout to, sleep to, or even play video games to. 

Advertising

Advertising is a paid message. It is a part of marketing (promotion). It can also be part of a public relations campaign. An advertisement could be a television commercial, but it could also be a print ad,  digital ad, radio ad, billboard, and so on. 

Examples of companies that are known to continuously use ads to their advantage are Geico, Ford, and Nike. 

Journalism

While public relations has a target audience, journalism does (or should) not. Journalism’s purpose is to simply inform the general public in an objective way. A PR professional’s job is to advocate for a specific company or individual, while a journalist is traditionally meant to remain unbiased. 

Examples of Journalism can vary. The many types include broadcast, investigative, opinion, entertainment, political, and sports. 

A Couple Examples of Integration

  • Coca-Cola: 

As part of its brand awareness strategy, Coca-Cola has combined PR and journalism by utilizing storytelling on its website (https://www.coca-colacompany.com/). This is also known as brand journalism. Stories on the website detail how the company supports the community, how they promote diversity and inclusion, and how they help the environment.

  • Always:

The brand Always has an ongoing PR campaign #LikeAGirl, which encourages people to change the meaning of the phrase and how society views girls and women. A popular Super Bowl advertisement was created to promote the campaign in 2015 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_Ep0O5fWN4). 

So although similar, all four of these industries definitely have their own place. They each have their own distinct objectives. Yet they all work with the public in mind, and any of them can be combined strategically to create even greater success.

Get the most out of Instagram: tips for business and personal use

By Jamie Jackson

I love Instagram. I really do. It’s fun to post pictures and to get a sneak peek into strangers’ lives (why is this not a weird statement anymore?).

Instagram is a popular social media outlet for personal use, however, it is also becoming popular among companies for branding and marketing. Here are a few tips to get the most out of Instagram for your business (or even your personal account).

Use brightly colored and well-lit photos

Image credit: Leon Bridges via Instagram

Image credit: Leon Bridges via Instagram

Image credit: Starbucks via Instagram

Image credit: Starbucks via Instagram

An attractive photo stream doesn’t usually involve unedited, dull pictures. Starbucks’ Instagram feed is full of colorful and attractive photos.

However – not all black and white pictures should be thrown in the trash. Leon Bridges’ photo stream has some great examples of how black and white pictures can still be great for Instagram.

Leon is an R&B artist embracing soul music. These black and white images line up perfectly with Leon’s personal brand and the subjects he sings about.

Instagram is effective when people follow you, and you gain followers by giving people what they want. On Instagram, that means aesthetically pleasing photos.

Be personal

No one wants to see another ad on Instagram. Sure, if you’re a clothing store, post pictures of new arrivals. If you have a great new product, it’s okay to feature it in a post. But Instagram shouldn’t be used as an online store. Try something like this:

Image credit: Microsoft via Instagram

Image credit: Microsoft via Instagram

Image credit: Microsoft via Instagram

Image credit: Microsoft via Instagram

Tell stories. Show consumers the faces behind the name.

You are more than an ad agency or a boring, unoriginal company. Show the fun! Unless you really want people to think you’re a boring, unoriginal company – in which case, I’m afraid I can’t help you there.insta

If you use Instagram, actually USE it

Post consistently. Don’t post once or twice, or for a season. If you put an intern in charge of the account, make sure someone else takes over after they leave.

Consistency is key in posting and branding. If you use hashtags on Twitter or Facebook, use the same for Instagram. Use your same logo as the profile picture, link to the same website, use the same voice and use your brand. Instagram provides a unique opportunity to tell your story solely through pictures. As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Steward them well.

Be hip

Image credit: McDonald's via Instagram

Image credit: McDonald’s via Instagram

By this, I don’t mean try to use modern slang just because it’s used by young people. You risk misusing or misunderstanding words and phrases, potentially losing credibility and followers. Instead, follow current trends and try to stay fun. This post from McDonald’s is a great example.

Celebrate things like hump day. Be relevant in your posts on holidays or during big world issues. This might seem like it won’t affect sales, but an online presence that seems real and personal is so valuable to a company – especially with younger people.

Evaluate

While Insta is more fun and exciting than a lot of other tools, it’s still very measurable and very valuable. Do it better by evaluating your efforts with Instagram analytics tools. Instagram is great for reaching younger audiences and telling your story with photos. Evaluating any social media effort is a chance to show the C-suite their money is being used well. It also gives coordinators a chance to change their efforts as needed depending on what works and what doesn’t. Evaluation helps to refine and target your audiences and determines if you are indeed reaching them. All efforts are wasteful if not evaluated frequently.

 

Social media is a wonderful branding tool when used properly. Millennials grew up with this stuff, so employ some of them to help you navigate new waters. It’s worth it. Speaking of social, you’ll want to follow IPR on Twitter and Facebook for the latest.

 

Put your pies in the window! A guide to inbound marketing

Image credit: modaweb.co.uk

Image credit: modaweb.co.uk

By Hank Kellerman

You’ve seen it in cartoons: A freshly baked pie is steaming hot and placed on the window sill to cool. The tantalizing aroma begins to drift around the house and finds a hungry character. With a quick flick of it’s cherry scented finger, the character slowly floats up a bit and begins to follow the wonderful smell.

Image credit: tvtropes.org

Image credit: tvtropes.org

Simply put, this is a great example of inbound marketing. In recent years there has been an explosion of inbound marketing across all types of businesses, but more specifically smaller businesses. Inbound marketing is the process of developing online content that is compelling, informative and fulfills your audience’s hunger for the product or services they want or need. Inbound marketing focuses on bringing customers to you versus having customers go out looking for them. This can be done in a multitude of ways, but some of the more common methods include blogs, social media discussions, forums and SEO optimization.

Before you jump head first into the rapid currents of inbound marketing, strap on some water wings and follow these guidelines for developing an inbound marketing strategy.

Develop Buyer Personas

How do you know and write for your audience? If you just write about topics without the proper research, you could fail to reach your desired audience. One tool that can help you create some excellent audience-specific content are your buyer personas. Buyer personas provide the inside scoop about what your customers are like. They can tell you numerous demographic and psychographic details such as their age, income, hobbies, day-to-day activities and more. Developing buyer personas enables you to accurately create specialized online content to address questions and topics focused to your customers.

Image credit: kccommunications.com

Image credit: kccommunications.com

SEO and Keywords

Most people know it is extremely difficult to show up on the front page of Google. Google uses digital spiders to crawl across the Internet and search for the most relevant content on that matches the needs of the search query. To get on the front page, your content must be optimized for search engines by using keywords.

There are a multitude of tools that can be used to find keywords, including the Google Adwords Keyword Planner and Long Tail Pro. These tools help you search for relevant keywords with regards to your topic and also can show you things such as how often a certain word is searched every month, its keyword competitiveness and other sites that use this keyword. If you find the right keyword and include it in your content’s titles and main body paragraphs with great surrounding content, your page will be much more likely to rise from the depths and find itself on the first page of Google search results.

Content is Key

This phrase has been uttered by marketing and public relations professionals millions of times. It also has never been so true. Creating compelling content that is relevant to what your consumers are searching for is only the beginning. For a successful inbound marketing strategy, your content has to be better than great. It has to be amazing.

Anyone can write a blog post about how to rebrand a business, but it takes a talented individual to write an in-depth, informative and star-studded post. You need to create content so great that other sites want to back link (the process of other sites linking to your post or site) to it. This also aids in the chances of your site being found organically by search engines. Search engines will view your site as having more credibility with more back links and, in turn, will lead to your site appearing higher up on search engine results pages.

Image credit: beyond.customline.com

Image credit: beyond.customline.com

How Do You Put This All Together?

Grab your mixing bowl and get ready to bake that aromatic fruit-filled pie that will have your audience flocking to your content. Do your research. Developing buyer personas, finding relevant keywords and writing amazing content all take time and effort. Spend the time to develop these three items and get ready to watch your consumers come to you. The world of marketing is changing rapidly, and the power of the Internet makes it is much easier for your consumers to find you on their own time than it is for you to reach out to them. So what are you waiting for? Start doing your research and that content-rich pie sitting in the window will be too irresistible to pass up.

What do you think? Do you have any inbound marketing strategies? Comment and share your thoughts with us. Also, don’t forget to follow Innovative PR on Facebook and Twitter.

Three ways Marvel is Making “Avengers: Age of Ultron” More Super

by Andrea Mason

Avengers-Age-of-Ultron-Poster-e1424813751772-665x385

In case you somehow missed it, Marvel and Disney are releasing “Avengers: Age of Ultron” tomorrow. That’s right, you have less than a day to prepare for its awesomeness. Over the last decade, Marvel has built an incredibly strong brand. It continues to strengthen in the midst of the film’s release with different promotions, merchandise and capitalizing on a minor crisis. Let’s take a look at a few ways Marvel is achieving this:

Making the most of a minor crisis

Marvel planned to release its first trailer for the movie during an episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” last October. However, according to Variety, an internet troll beat Marvel to the punch, leaking the trailer before it was scheduled. This was not good news for Marvel because there was already a strategic plan to release the trailer. Still, Marvel was able to turn the crisis into an opportunity by posting a tweet that just said, “Dammit, Hydra.” This simplistic tweet–a nod to Captain America fans–received more than 30,000 retweets and 20,000 favorites. Marvel played off of this misfortune and blamed it on the fictional antagonist, which is quite genius.

Reaching out to women

Oddly enough, a mega-franchise like the Avengers hasn’t resonated with female audiences as well as the studios wish. Marvel knows how to change that. Cinema Blend explains that for “Age of Ultron,” Disney released one of its largest licensing programs ever around the film. If you see Iron Man, Thor or Captain America on packages of Sage Fruit, Conagra, Crunch Pak or Chobani, that is Marvel’s strategy to branch out to the female audience. All those products have a significantly high female customer bases (65-67%).

Gillette Razors from Stark Industries

150410080627-gillette-avengers-780x439Marvel teamed up with a number of well-known brands to promote “Age of Ultron.” The Mary Sue lists a few of these brands like Harley Davidson, Gillette, Doritos and Audi. Gillette unveiled a clever campaign with different men’s razors that resemble Avengers characters. With young men being the film’s biggest audience, this partnership makes a lot of sense. Even though these products aren’t real, the idea of using a superhero razor could bring out that inner 9-year-old and make shaving more enjoyable.

Marvel’s brand is well established, but the studio is successfully promoting the movie and continuing to create lasting impressions. Let’s just hope the movie lives up to crowd expectations.

We would love to hear what promotional material, merchandise or other awesome things you have seen from Marvel. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or comment below!

A brand is what the audience thinks it is

by Jonathan Haile

James Bond is known to drive Aston Martins. In doing so, Astons became the “heroes’ cars.” Jaguar, another English luxury automaker, doesn’t want you driving its rival, Aston’s. That means if you’re not the hero, you must be the villain. In recent years, the company has done an excellent job playing with that brand strategy, featuring popular actors we recognize as movie villains in a series of ads. The company is not really out to incite global mayhem, but inspire you with a bit of fun.

From Jaguar's Facebook page

From Jaguar’s Facebook page

I sat in Jaguar’s gorgeous F-Type Coupe at this year’s Kansas City Auto Show, and I’ll be the first to admit that the car caused me to smirk, villainously. I wished there was a key fob close by so that I could drive it out of Bartle Hall. I love Jaguar’s ads, but it wasn’t until this week that I realized the brilliance of the automaker’s strategy.

A brand is what the customers and audiences think

I started a free online marketing course, and in a short period of time, I have heard a lot about branding, strategy and messages. The instructor, in a series of videos, explained something I wish I had realized,”The real definition of a brand is whatever the customer thinks it is.” She hit it on the head with pinpoint accuracy. We all have perceptions of a brand. Our experiences with the brand shape those perceptions. It was shown, over time, that Jaguars were the cars of the mischievous, so sitting in the F-Type, I wanted to cause some trouble. That can make things tough for PR and marketing folks.

The Challenge, The Solution

More than 6.6 million people like Jaguar on Facebook. That’s a lot of differing opinions and expectations. Therein lies an exciting challenge. How do you help the customer understand the brand as you see it? The answer isn’t villainous mind games, but creating a solid brand foundation.

Whether you are branding a start-up or re-branding a well-established company in need of updates, there are questions marketing and PR pros must consider. Here are a few:

  • Why does the company exist and who is it meant to serve?
  • How is the brand positioned in the marketplace?
  • What are the competitors doing? What will you do differently?

More specifically for PR folks, how will we communicate with the people who matter most? What tactics should we implement? When the brand is established, the communication needs to be consistent and built to help the company achieve its objectives.

Jaguar, founded more than 90 years ago, isn’t really set on blowing up major cities and manipulating world leaders. Its corporate values are integrity, understanding, excellence, unity and responsibility. That said, it’s a British luxury car company with competitors. When you consider the association between Aston Martin and James Bond, you forgive Jaguar for playing the anti-hero.

I implore you not to hatch any evil schemes. Instead, find Innovative PR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The importance of product placements in television

by Kristina Keeling

Waynes World Pizza HutProduct placement in television has become more important to marketers because of the way people are watching television. Viewers are able to skip over commercials and enjoy shows without any interruptions. Product placement advertises to consumers subliminally, if done correctly. However, marketers are becoming more aggressive with product placement promotions to reach their audiences.

How does it work?

To put it simply, product placement is when a company pays to have its product showcased on a television show or in a movie, but a lot more goes into product placement than we think. The film, “Man of Steel,” had more than 100 product partners, earning close to $160 million before it hit theaters. Product placement is also in books, video games and even on YouTube. When done successfully, product placements can have lasting impact on viewers. Some agencies actually specialize in product placement promotion because of high demand.

HERO

HERO, an advertising agency in Los Angeles, specializes in product placements. Its clients have placed products on well-known shows, such as “Two and a Half Men,” “Glee,” and “The Good Wife,” just to name a few. Its website states that “the brands in a viewer’s favorite shows have a much higher likelihood of becoming that viewer’s favorite brand.”

House of Cards

PS Vita MemeThe Netflix original series “House of Cards” is notorious for its not-so-subtle product placements. The series had such an overload of notable products that the Los Angeles Times said, “House of Cards? More like House of Product Placement,” mocking the hit TV series for its poor use of product placements. The very first sentence of the first episode referenced a Toyota Prius. Netflix spent a total of $100 million producing the first season, but offers no disclosures of any paid product placement, only crediting the product partners by saying all logos were “used with permission.”

Now that “House of Cards” is in its third season it is confirmed by Advertising Age that Anheuser-Busch is the exclusive beer brand for the series, along with Samsung being the tech-of-choice. Anheuser-Busch is not paying for this placement however, but rather supplying production with its product. Samsung also offered its customers Netflix subscriptions when buying select Samsung products. It is rumored that Coca-Cola, Dell and Nike are all working with “House of Cards” for similar deals.

Modern Family

JULIE BOWEN, ED O'NEILL, ADAM DEVINE, SARAH HYLAND, TY BURRELLThe Emmy Award-winning series, “Modern Family,” now on its sixth season, is another show littered with product placement. Steven Levitan, executive producer and creator, said the show turns down about 90 percent of its product placement offers, and for a good reason. ABC wants to stay true to the characters on its show. The Toyota Prius, an environmentally-friendly car, appeared on the first season, driven by Mitchell Pritchett, who is an environmental attorney. It wouldn’t make sense for him to drive a gas-guzzling truck.

“Connection Lost,” a recent episode of “Modern Family” has sky rocketed to the top of the list of brilliantly used product placement. The episode was shared with viewers entirely through Claire Dunphy’s MacBook Pro. In the episode, Claire is trying to find her daughter after having a huge fight, but she is stuck at the airport and has to use Facebook, iCloud, the app, Find Your iPhone and FaceTime to track her down. The episode didn’t feel like one long commercial, cleverly blurring the lines between entertainment and advertising.

Is this all too much?

Products are everywhere. Your favorite character is going to have to make a phone call or use a computer for research, so why not have them use an Apple product to do so? What do you think? Have “Modern Family” and “House of Cards” gone too far with product placement? Let us know in the comments below.

Advertising win: Unfinished Business’ stock photos

by Jonathan Haile

Stock photos are obviously staged, somewhat awkward and often very expensive. There is rarely anything unique about them. The same thing can be said about promotional campaigns for upcoming movies. There is usually a poster, then a teaser, then a trailer, and finally TV and print ads. The funny thing is that when stock photos meet film promotions, you find a fresh way to get people interested in your movie. Kudos to marketers behind Twentieth Century Fox’s new film, Unfinished Business.

About the film

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Vaughn, Franco and Wilkinson lead the next great business team.

In the movie, actors Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson and Dave Franco (playing an inexperienced business pro named Mike Pancake) head off to Europe, bidding to win the business of a huge client, but the trip goes awry. With Vaughn at the helm, you can expect this won’t be a film for families.

The images, available for free on Getty Images, are perfect spoofs of easily recognizable stock images. In the series of photos, you’ll see Vaughn, Franco and Wilkinson (clearly Photoshopped) looking positive and productive, and positioned to exude ideal business professionals in their ideal work environments. While a lot of companies aim to be more appealing to the public with senses of humor, it’s not hard to imagine seeing this on a website soon.

Why this is great

HBO wins for creativity.

As I touched upon above, movie promotion involves a formulaic process. The process is the most effective way to get people into theater seats. That’s why studio films make money hand over fist, and independent films don’t. The process is boring, but marketers do a lot of things, big and small, to energize the campaigns. My favorite example is (bear in mind, for a television show) HBO’s placement of a giant dragon skull on an English beach; a promotion for its hit series, Game of Thrones.

istock-unfinished-business-hed-2015Granted Fox’s use of stock photos is significantly smaller, in scale and effort, than a beach dragon, doing something new is always appreciated by marketers and film fans, alike. Will the movie be good? That remains the big question, but in the meantime, I’ll continue to commend whoever thought of this idea. I hope those looking for business-related photos on Getty Images are doing double-takes and laughing at what they find.

Do you like the Unfinished Business’ new approach? Will you see the film this Friday? Let us know by commenting, and follow Innovative PR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.