Insert Product Here – The Silent Art Of Product Placement

With ADHDed young consumers increasingly trying to avoid advertising through commercial-zapping devices such as digital video recorders or pop-up ad blockers on-line, media personnel are becoming more creative in coming up with ways to find their message real visibility.
One tactic that’s become popular is integrating the product into entertainment media such as TV and movies. Product placement has exploded over the past few years, especially on television.

I am pretty sure by now everyone would have seen the first installment of Transformers Trilogy. Yes I know it came out a long time back (2007) but back then how many of you actually knew about the 2011 Chevy Camaro (Bumble Bee). I remember it was the hottest thing on the road for me (the fact that Megan Fox was slipping and sliding around it had nothing to do with it).

Transformers grossed over $709.4 Million at the box office. Not only was the movie a big hit worldwide, Transformers was a major product placement hit as well. It’s said that as many as 68 brands were placed in the film which has brought in $400 million for the film’s investors. It also represents a transformable Christmas must-have from Hasbro Toys.

$400 Million for just having a brand’s product in their movies? Yeah! And the best bit is if done cleverly it is not only not perceived as advertising by the ADHDed but also appreciated and absorbed. How I thank the Transformers team for the Bumble Bee.

So what exactly is Product Placement?
Essentially when a branded product appears in a creative (normally of the AV variety) not produced with the primary objective of marketing the aforementioned product itself. Brands often pay for their products to be placed in a movie or on a television show. This act, while not an overt form of advertising, seeks to communicate with the audience’s powerful subconscious.

Check out the most infamous (some of them arent that subtle you see) product placement in movies.

Pepsi and Nike – Back to the Future
Wayfarer Sunglasses – Risky Business
Fed Ex – Castaway
Ford Mustang – Bullit
Wilson – Castaway
Apple Mac-book – Sex and the city
Pizza Hut – Waynes World
Mercedes AMG – Transformers 3
White Castle – Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

Selling Out Vs Selling In

Product placement is often the focus of media scrutiny.Ok, this isn’t new news. Once upon a time it was a cleverly-placed laundry detergent bottle in the background of our favorite sitcom; or a techie using the Mac-book or a Dell or IBM , it’s often a blatant feature of a medium’s storyline. People naturally have mixed feelings about this phenomenon: is it selling out, or is it staying ahead of the inevitable curve?

Phil In Modern Family With Ipad

Now when-ever you switch on your favorite sitcom , don’t you feel like you’re watching a long commercial. Almost every scene has a product that has been positioned methodically to gain screen presence. This has also impacted advertising of the traditional variety wherein there is a definite advance from in your face TVCs to those that have in turn started looking like mini sitcoms.

Ground Reality

Today, I don’t know where you are, but pause a moment and look around, outside your office window on the way back home, ads are popping everywhere, traditional streets , shops, billboards , radio , television, cell-phones, Google maps you name it. Even ATMS have advertisement as we wait for them to dispense cash. You can’t really escape most of them and moments such as just before a funny Youtube video are really annoying.

With digital recording technology now allowing viewers to skip televised advertisement breaks with ease, the placing of brands within feature films and TV shows is skyrocketing. Even the numbers are in taste for us to chew on. Product placement in movies is now a $3bn-a-year business. In the next three years, it will be a $6bn-a-year business.

Accidents vs Orchestrated Accidents
Sometimes product placement just happens. A set designer, producer, director, or even an actor might come across something he thinks will enhance the authenticity of the project. Instances like- how junkie would a junkie rocker be without his pack of Marlboro’s or Camel’s? Or how drunk would a drunkard be without a bottle of Johnny Walker or a six pack of bud? Or how hot would a seductress be if she aint wearing any victoria’s secret? (yes even if she aint) Or how fat would a fat kid be if he aint gorging on a bucket of KFC Chicken? You tell me.

But that’s not how things always work –though movie scripts are never(almost) written with a particular product in mind but once that script is written, opportunity areas are looked at. Where can a product could be placed and how, a bit different to a lot of trash where someone comes along halfway through and offers money to change the script.

Creative bunch thinking Rasta (product placed and ticking ;)) are definitely of the opinion that product placement is still acceptable if it doesn’t interfere with the creative process of a movie or any other medium. So our favourite spy Mr Bond must still drive an Aston Martin & wear an Omega to keep time. The spy franchise that has become synonymous with product placement would draw a record $45m from brands ahead of next year’s 23rd feature-length outing.

The Silent Art broken down (keep the secret to your neighbor, one with the guerrilla)

Let’s say the people at Ford hear about this action movie about to go into production where the badass hero drives a car on his hunt to chase down villains. The opportunity is there for that badass partner in crime to be a Ford. So now a team of marketers approach the studio with a lucrative offer. The output of the meeting looks something like this – The lead actor is introduced for the first time driving in a Ford Mustang GT 500 Shelby. In slow motion you see the reflecting headlamps, the shiny body of the car , the sparkling blue paint and as the camera slowly pans out , you see the mustang horse , silvery shiny. The product has been introduced and all through-out the movie , the actor jumps in and out of the car , chases bad guys in it and you get glimpses of the car time and again . Both teams are happy and the integration of the Ford product is a success. This is arranged product placement. Without being overtly obvious Ford has managed to reap the benefit of a conventional advertisement.

Branded Entertainment – Soundtrack, Music, Music Video –

Sound track plays a pivotal role in the success of a movie. Here the reference is not to the original score composed for the movie but use of tracks by various artists all through-out for the ultimate movie experience.

It’s a win win for the recording artists, for instance if a particular popular (/or not so popular) track is picked up for the soundtrack of a movie, the artist’s work is getting screen time. You end up relating those scenes with that particular song.Eye of the Tiger, the epic theme song for Rocky III, was a major hit and is still remembered in association with the movie every time it’s played.

Brand placement is no stranger to a young man’s favourite R&B tune. Brands are tripling their revenue because of a mention in a Jay-Z song. Conscious of the value such mentions can bring to a brand, some artists have gone so far as to approach companies with offers to include brand and product names in their song lyrics. See Again, if you hear an artist talking about his new Nike sneakers, you are going to think about it when you go shopping no?

Take take a look at dodgy av we’ve compiled to give you a drift:

I’m certain you noticed Lady GaGa go berzerk in her track “Fashion”.
She does play them doesnt she.

Product placement is now almost guaranteed in most music videos. Jennifer Lopez’s new video “Papi” has hit youtube in what looks like the music video equivalent of superbowl slots with atleast 7 brands may be more (check for a little trivia in the end, you do well we’d give away a keychain, na just kidding, trust us, whatever it is you will not have to pass it on to your domestic help).

Pioneering Product Placement

Deep Impact
Ray-Ban Aviator
In 1983 a sunglasses production company Ray-Ban struck a product placement deal with producers of Risky Business, the first major Cruise’s box-office hit. The agreement was very successful and resulted in a 50% increase in sales of the Wayfarer model. Three years later Ray-Ban and Tom Cruise cooperated again. This time he and his Navy colleagues wore Aviators. The result: the sales of Aviator sunglasses rose by 40 percent in the seven months following the release of the movie. It’s one of the classic examples of successful product placement.

US Navy with Top Gun
After almost 25 years Top Gun is still over-the-top patriot movie. The movie’s producer, John Davis, stated that “Top Gun was a recruiting video for the Navy”. They set up recruiting booths in the major cinemas to try and catch some of the adrenaline charged guys leaving the screenings. They even stated that after the release of the movie the number of young men, who wanted to be Navy aviators, went up by 500 percent.

This piece would be incomplete without a mention of POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, which is a documentary about product placement, paid for by product placement. It follows Morgan Spurlock, the Super Size Me filmmaker, as he attempts to usher in a new era of transparency and awareness between brands and consumers. Worth a watch, surely.

The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. Product Placement is a very large opportunity in the Indian media and entertainment sector. So far we’ve just scene a few related ideas such as pealing laptop stickers on a news reader’s dummy computer, a start stop scooty pep in block buster 3 idiots and branded Micro Max (is it) sixers in the IPL.The scope as you’d appreciate is massive.
It will also be interesting to see how the law and regulatory bodies intervene on this phenomenon as they are different in different countries.

Implemented well, Product placement is as effective, perhaps more so than traditional advertising to break clutter to impact an unaware but vulnerable ADHDed mind.

#unconference trivia
..See how many products you can spot in the JLo “Papi” video embedded earlier in the post. Once you’ve accurately identified, we’d request you to send us the list by either following us on twitter and DM your answers or subscribe to the blog and comment. We’ll approve all comments at the same time next Thursday so that your answers are kept private and others cant build on them. If you are the one with the most identifications you’d get a #Rastathought merchandise and a whole lot of respect.




  1. Pingback: Strip McDonald’s Strip « ThinkRasta - October 17, 2011

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