by Kristina Keeling
Product 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, 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
The 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.
The 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.
by Jonathan Haile
There aren’t a ton of people who have $1,500 to drop on Google Glass. No matter how steep price, it’s going to be strange seeing people walk around with it on. Equally as strange as it looks, hearing someone say, “Ok Glass, record a video”, is going to be an adjustment for those who aren’t wearing it. Google, however, seems optimistic that Glass will be a hit, and I must admit, there are things about it I find very appealing.
Even though the Glass probably isn’t in my future anytime soon, I think it has some benefits once you get over it’s oddity. Instead of looking at computer screen while you “hangout” with someone on Google, they appear in the heads up display and can see what you see. Giving them your perspective allows you to share the experience. That’s why I think Glass and future examples of wearable technology have huge potential in the world of public relations and marketing.
Demos, How-Tos, Etc.
I’d never thought of product demonstrations, walkthroughs, or how-to videos as parts of PR until my first internship, which required me to blog a ton for various companies, their customers and followers. If you can, somehow, get over the price, Google Glass has to potential to be a great asset for demos, giving the customer or viewer the perspective of the demonstrator. It could create a more personal experience for those who want to learn how to do something. Maybe using a toolkit to fix something is made easier when you see it done from a first person viewpoint. Similar experiences can be seen through the lenses of GoPro cameras, which are becoming more popular every day.
Likewise, companies that are trying to sell experiences and locations could use Glass to show the product from a potential customer’s perspective. What will a tour of Paris be like when you visit France? Well, let a French travel company show you. And say you’re pitching an idea to a company. You could use Glass to show that the experience will be like. I’m not going to say there are limitless possibilities for wearable tech, but the number of uses in PR could be big.
Wearable tech isn’t limited to glasses
Wearable technology isn’t a new idea, but it’s finally starting to take off. We’re seeing Google give a lot of focus to it with the Glass, while Samsung and Apple prepare to square off in the smartwatch arena (basically watches that do everything smartphones do). Applications, marketing campaigns, demos, and so much more for these devices are going to give PR practitioners and marketers a lot more responsibilities. There might even be social media-related contests centered around this tech. And don’t expect Apple and Samsung to be the only ones involved. Wearable tech startups are going to see growth as well.
Imagine these wearable devices being able to monitor your health, your heart rate, and your fatigue. That’s what it’s coming to, and any healthcare-related entity is going to be in a very good position once they grasp that concept and run with it.
The future is wearable
For marketers, advertisers and communication professionals, getting people’s attention is becoming more difficult. It it isn’t enough to show a commercial on television or place a print ad anymore. It’s about creating positive experiences, sometimes fun experiences, for the publics that matter to us the most. Wearable technology will allow us to continue creating new experiences. It will also be a fun to see how it influences social media in the future.