Product Placement: What's in there for the brands?
Maninder P. Singh | 19 Jun 2006

Will the sports car driven by James Bond entice movie-goers to consider test driving that car? Are television viewers more likely to purchase snack products they see their favorite programme? Would a song blaring in the background of computer game lead gamers to purchase the artist’s CD? Marketers hope, with these product placement promotions, the answer to these questions is yes! And many are counting on product placement promotions to boost sales and build positive brand awareness.

Product placement is a marketing practice designed to intentionally insert products into the content of entertainment programs, such as movies and television programs. In most cases the placement is subtle so as not to divert significant attention from the main content of the program or media outlet.

Placement can take several forms:
visual imagery in which the product appears within the entertainment program
actual product use by an actor/actress in the program
dialogue spoken by an actor that contains product information

Product placement opportunities have existed in movies for over 50 years but did not evolve significantly until the 1970s when tobacco companies recognized the advantages of this promotional approach. In recent years, marketers have become more aggressive in identifying outlets for product placements, especially in television programs.

From BMWs showing up in James Bond movies to Nokia mobiles prominently displayed in the Indian Idol 2, product placement is an effective and often indirect way to build brand awareness. However, product placement is no longer limited to movies and television. Electronic games, such as EA Sports Madden Football, are wildly popular and are often on par with television for attracting the entertainment attention of many teens and young adults, in particular.
A few examples of product placement in Indian scenario are:
Paas-Pass brand in Yadein
Coke in Taal
Marti Swift in Bunty Aur Babli
Hero Honda in Koi Mil Gaya
Bru in Saathiya
Calvin Klein in Salaam Namaste

Type of movie selected is going to affect the awareness level of your brand. So selection of movie is an important decision for effective product placement. Reach and Frequency are also attached to selection of movie. One must see in how much cities a movie is going to shown. Maximum number of cities means maximum number of exposure to your brand. But this is not enough. Now the question is how we increase the frequency of exposures. For that one must select a movie that has high probability of being a hit. It will ensure that same people come to see the movie again which in turn will increase the frequency.
Marketers must ensure that their brands get due attention in the movie but not at the cost of diverting audience’s attention to their brand. It means that brands should be weaved into the story in such a way that audience get the feeling that brand is not being advertised rather it’s being used for a purpose in the movie by actors. Always remember that people have come to see the movie not an ad of your brand.

For many of today’s gamers, their gaming system includes not only the game player attached to a television but also includes connections to an advanced audio system. Game developers take advantage of this enhanced gaming environment by populating their software with numerous songs from genres aimed at younger players. Most songs are up-tempo tunes that help create an atmosphere of excitement while players battle on the screen. After playing a game for many weeks, the gamer may be exposed to a song well over 100 times. In fact, avid gamers will hear the song much more when playing video games then they will through local radio outlets. The result is that many new artists benefit from this intense exposure.

On the down side, it leaves a space for Ambush Marketing, which your competitors can take advantage of. One can’t quantify return on investment, as there are no measurement indices. Lack of professional people in this field is another concern for marketers. Despite all this, product placement can offer several benefits to a brand. It is a comparatively cheaper medium where one can put one’s money in. I think product placement will form an integral part of IMC plan in near future.